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David Denton
David's Review Corner, December 2019

The first in a project to record all the overtures to Daniel-Francois-Esprit Auber’s 31 opera-comiques, seven operas, three dramas lyriques and seven stage works.

Not only was he the most prolific French composer in these genres, but in Paris he rivalled Rossini in the number of opera performances in the first half of the nineteenth century, selling his stage works by virtue of his gift for attractive melody, a fact readily appreciated in his overtures. They were just long enough to set the scene, but stopped short of those by Rossini and Verdi. The libretti chosen mainly came from the notable Eugene Scribe, his stories decked with romance and heroism aimed at the fashionable audiences who found those themes attractive. The present disc covers his early period from 1813 to 1826, and, with the exception of La Neige, ou Nouvel Eginard, all are receiving their World Premiere Recording. So we open the disc with Le Macon from 1825, and by far his most successful of that era, remaining on French and German stages for the next hundred years. It was an example of those many operas where heroic deeds save a life with the happy conclusion that brings. From one extreme to the other with Le Timide, ou Le Nouveau Seducteur that had just a handful of performances before descending into oblivion. As you go through the sixteen tracks you will find pleasing music played with a suitable elegance, the performances using the bouncy tempos requested in Auber’s metronome markings. This is particularly required to generate the mood of sailors, the participants in Le Sejour militaire from 1813 and Auber’s first success, but my own favourite comes at the very end with the overture to the gentle pastoral comedy of mistaken identity, Le Bergere chatelaine. That we have these performing scores, I gather we owe a debt of gratitude to the conductor, Dario Salvi, who also obtains neat performances from his Czech orchestra. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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