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Ruth Prieto
Fanfare, September 2018

The CD ends with the lyrical poem Le chant d’amour, op. 44, composed for soprano and orchestra in a post-Romantic style reminiscent of Richard Strauss, a composer much admired by El-Khoury. The work, magnificently performed by the soprano Arianne Douguet, has enormous and sumptuous lyrical expressiveness. © 2018 Fanfare Read complete review

Stephen Estep
American Record Guide, November 2017

Orages (Storms) and the symphonic poem Espaces-Fragmentations combine gloomy, distended spectralism with Kanchelian outbursts of violence, though the dynamic contrasts won’t startle you into jerking your car into on-coming traffic like Kancheli’s will. Poeme Nocturne has relatively calm outer movements, though they are hardly restful; the middle is more empty violence.

Le Chant d’Amour is from 1987 and very different—lyrical but still steely, thickly scored but not exactly plush. It has much in common with German late romantic settings. The poem is an unexceptional romantic-era one by Alphonse de Lamartine, beautifully sung by Douguet; it isn’t bad poetry by any means, but El-Khoury gives it more power than it has on its own. I would gladly seek out more of his music if it were like this.

The playing all around is polished and intense… © 2017 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Records International, August 2017

El-Khoury’s idiom is grounded in late-Romantic tonality—this is made very clear in the opulent Le Chant d’amour, which deliberately evokes the Strauss of the Four Last Songs. The dramatic Orages is effectively a tone-poem evoking the powerful chaos of the storms of the composer’s native Lebanon and their surreal, shattering psychological effect. Basically tonal fanfares of flaring lightning and rolling thunderclouds over the desert are harmonised with extreme, even cluster, dissonance, to great effect. Espaces-fragmentations is a meditation on the mysteries of time and space, consisting of luminous brief gestures like violent astronomical events glimpsed at a great distance. The three-movement Poème-nocturne was written in memory of Jean-Pierre Rampal. Unusually structured, two mysterious, impressionistic outer movements in which the soloist takes centre stage are separated by a vigorous ‘cadenza’ for orchestra only, symbolising an outpouring of grief at Rampal’s passing. © 2017 Records International

Remy Franck
Pizzicato, July 2017

Mostly very dramatic, sometimes rough and dissonant music with powerful orchestral outbursts, after which the lyrical element creates a welcome contrast. The works are played by very committed performers and get all the intensity one can expect. © 2017 Pizzicato

Review Corner, July 2017

Like the storm [El-Khoury] (successfully) portrays, the music is wild and dramatic, though not always, and like a big storm, comes and goes, in places a little chaotically. It’s probably sacrilege but untamed nature, dramatic music—in places it reminded us of the theme to Jaws, something wicked this way coming, building to a crescendo and then fading. If it’s not actually like John Williams’ score, the comparison gives you some idea of its power and energy.

Elsewhere on the programme is Espaces-Fragmentations, which reflects on time and was written in the style of Beethoven, performed live between the Second and Pastoral. Poème Nocturne was inspired by French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal, while closing piece Le Chant D’amour ends in as dramatic a fashion as the opening, though more Richard Strauss than great white. © 2017 Review Corner Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2017

A disc assembled from recordings made by Radio France continues the Naxos series of music by Bechara El-Khoury, the Lebanese composer now living in Paris. He is at home as a scene-painter in music, here capturing the mood of Orages (Storms) that in his childhood often broke out over Lebanon, with its rumblings and flashes of lightening here depicted in a noisy score replete with brass and percussion. The performance appears to come from its premiere with the Orchestre de Paris, conducted by Paavo Järvi in 2013. Two years earlier his Sixth Symphonic Poem, Espaces-Fragmentations visualises a strange journey into a night that passes our world like a flash of lightning before the universe reverts to calm. The Poeme nocturne, a work for solo flute and orchestra ‘in three parts’, requires a soloist in the outer parts when it explores the smooth and limpid side of the instrument. Between those parts that have a feel of meditation and mystery, the orchestra bring a moment of highly charged drama. The soloist is the Orchestre de Paris distinguished principal flautist, Vicens Prats. The rather brief disc ends with Le Chant d’amour (The Song of Love) for soprano, an updated version of Richard Strauss’s lieder, and here sung by Ariane Douguet with the Orchestre Colonne conducted by David Coleman. You will have to change volume setting between tracks, but the quality of the sound is exemplary and well defined. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

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