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France celebrates its National Day on 14th July, known as Bastille Day, to mark the date in 1789 when French troops stormed the Bastille prison in Paris, effectively turning the country's social order on its head and kicking off the bloody French Revolution.

It was France that produced possibly the best known musician from the mediaeval period, Guillaume de Machaut
(c. 1300-1377), and the string of outstanding composers the country has subsequently nurtured continues to this day, with towering talents such as Pierre Boulez.

What follows is a small selection of music from French masters down the ages. We hope you will enjoy sampling them.


Music from the Baroque period


8.554397
Jean-Baptiste LULLY
Grand Motets Vol. 1

“…Once upon a time sacred music of the French Baroque was considered expressively superficial. These idiomatic, often affecting performances argue strongly
to the contrary.”
Classic FM

  Listen to an extract from Te Deum: Tu ad dexteram Dei sedes

8.660118-19
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU
Castor et Pollux

“...the Toronto-based Opera in Concert give a polished, thoughtfully characterised performance. Kevin Mallon shapes and paces the opera intelligently … the principals have fresh, personable voices and understand the French Baroque style, above all Monica Whicher, who gives a poignantly expressive account of Télaire's sublime lament
"Tristes apprêts".”
The Daily Telegraph (Australia)

  Listen to an extract from Tristes apprêts

8.553175
Marc-Antoine CHARPENTIER
Sacred Music, Vol. 3

“The performances here are splendid, not inflated, but in every way satisfying. The recording is excellent and there is full documentation.”
Penguin Guide

  Listen to an extract from Te Deum, H. 147




Music from the Classical period


8.660274
François-André Danican PHILIDOR
Sancho Pança dans son isle

“Philidor’s Sancho Pança is brilliantly captured on this Naxos CD. The acoustics are stellar and even more so when listening on headsets…Highly recommended.”
ConcertoNet.com

  Listen to an extract from
Prenez vite cette lance

8.660305
André GRÉTRY
Le Magnifique

“The performance is admirably stylish, with singers and orchestra all fully attuned to the French style of this period.”
MusicWeb International

  Listen to an extract from
Pourquoi donc ce Magnifique

8.555402
Étienne MÉHUL
Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2

“Both symphonies receive vibrant and stylish performances by Jorge Rotter and the Rhenish Philharmonic, who play Méhul as if he's someone you should get to know (and you should), and it's supported by big, warm sound from Naxos' engineers.”
ClassicsToday.com

  Listen to an extract from Symphony No. 2:
I. Adagio - Allegro




Music from the Romantic period


8.572830
Georges ONSLOW
Cello Sonatas, Op. 16, Nos. 1-3

“I cannot praise this disc highly enough. These are great works, and a fine addition to the repertoire of virtually any performing cellist
or pianist who engages in
chamber music.”
Fanfare

  Listen to an extract from Cello Sonata in F major:
I. Allegro

8.572886
Hector BERLIOZ
Symphonie fantastique /
Le corsaire

“This is a natural, sophisticated, glowing performance [of Symphonie Fantastique] captured in the finest sound I’ve ever heard given to the work. It’s one of the best versions now available and at bargain price it must not be overlooked. I struggle to think of a version that offers better playing. An absolute winner.”
MusicWeb International

  Listen to an extract from Symphonie fantastique:
V. Dies irae et Ronde du Sabbat

8.573344
Georges BIZET
Roma / Marche Funèbre / Overture in A major /
Patrie Overture / Petite Suite

“The performances are supremely elegant…this is an important release, and highly recommended.”
The Guardian

  Listen to an extract from
Overture in A major




Music from the post-Romantic period


8.509002
Claude DEBUSSY
Orchestral Works (Complete)
(9-CD Box Set)

“I strongly recommend this set for Debussy fans who want some new and undiscovered gems as well for anyone who would like to have all of Debussy’s orchestral output—and then some—in one quite comprehensive, reasonably-priced package and with excellent performances.”
Audiophile Audition

  Listen to an extract from 2 Danses: No. 2 Danse profane

8.660349-51
Darius MILHAUD
L'Orestie d'Eschyle

“…the music, the standard of singing and playing, and the fact that we now have what is surely the first complete recording of this work by Milhaud make the set one to seek out and get to know. It’s a huge success.”
Classical Net

  Listen to an extract from Les eumenides: Act III: A vous autres la parole

8.572978
Francis POULENC
Choral Music
Mass in G Major / 7 Chansons / Motets

“Noel Edison and his singers have made perhaps their finest recording to date, a reference for choirs who follow and for listeners who want an important and enduring addition to their choral music library.”
ClassicsToday.com

  Listen to an extract from 7 Chansons, FP 81:
No. 3. Par une nuit nouvelle




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