Listen to TRACK 22: Pardieu, déménageur, vous venez à propos !
Maurice Ravel’s stage works are as subtle and expressively poised as can be imagined. In the Spanish-tinged L’Heure espagnole he breathes new life into the Italian genre of theopera buffa, enhancing the comedy in the plot by giving it a gentle human poignancy and poetic presence. The clarity of Ravel’s vocal writing, and his signature harmonic magic and luminous orchestration, make this opera a delight for the ear. Don Quichotte à Dulcinée was Ravel’s last composition, imbuing Cervantes’s famous character with aristocratic Spanish swagger as well as a kind of heroic tenderness and vulnerability. Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges from Lyon can be found on Naxos 8.660336.
Francis Chagrin described himself as ‘Romanian by birth, British by nationality and cosmopolitan by inclination’. A student of Paul Dukas and Nadia Boulanger, Chagrin wrote prolifically for films but composed for most genres. The two symphonies are among his most important orchestral works. Both are dramatic, even passionate—not least in the beautiful slow movements—and full of contrasts, both within and between movements. Undeservedly neglected, they reveal Chagrin’s mastery of form and colour.
Listen to TRACK 11: Der Götterrath (The Deliberations of the Gods)
Haydn’s operas are little-performed today though many of them were immensely popular during his lifetime, being staged far beyond the wealthy Esterháza court for which they were written. They range from dark, supernatural dramas to light-hearted capers, one even including a character tricked into believing he is on the moon. These overtures give free rein to Haydn’s musical gifts and dramatic flair, encapsulating in miniature the emotional range of the operas themselves.
Listen to TRACK 4: No. 3 Tündértánc és Mirígy
(Fairies’ Dance and Mirígy)
For over half a century at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, Leo Weiner taught successive generations of Hungary’s leading musicians, and won his country’s highest awards. As a composer his career was comet-like in its early brilliance and his music marked by an imaginative use of colour, masterful instrumentation and lyrical emotion. He regardedCsongor and Tünde as his magnum opus and its incidental music was later to take independent form as a ballet, heard here in its final 1959 version. The impressionistic Ballad, Op. 28 for viola and orchestra derives from an earlier work for clarinet and piano.
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