Music and Vision homepage



Things of the past? BILL NEWMAN listens to Yan Pascal Tortelier conducting the BBC Philharmonic

CHANDOS      CHAN 9765

Record Box


Who says that 'overture beginners' are things of the past? When Beecham died, they quickly disappeared from concerts altogether, the more familiar pattern of concerto (first half) - symphony (second half) becoming quite enough for today's average audience to absorb in one go. Record companies saw their consumers in a different light - group all the party-pieces together, and you have a commercial winner.

Tortelier's French Bonbons. Copyright (c) 1999 Chandos Records Ltd.I know of no other living conductor than Tortelier who can ring the changes in French repertoire. Paray's sheer panache in his late seventies and Sir Thomas's graceful 'flick of the wrist' phrase turns apart, Tortelier has his father's charisma for creating exactly the right atmosphere in a programme of delights that will charm and excite lovers of great melodies, expertly orchestrated, full of contrasts. Playing 'by the score', Hérold's Zampa Overture springs into action, and his astute judgement of orchestral timbres in Thomas' Mignon even leaves Toscanini at the starting post. Hearing the Gavotte from that opera left my colleagues wondering who the composer was! [Listen - track 5, 00:16 - 01:07.]

Adam's delectable Si j'étais roi [listen - track 6, 00:55 - 01:45], and those wonderful barn-stormers by Auber - Le Cheval de bronze, Offenbach - La belle Hélène, all benefit from strict tempi and keen observance of dynamics. The relative stranger is Aimé Louis Maillart's Overture to Les Dragon de Villars, which Richard Bonynge recorded back in 1966, its imperious gait reminding me of Henry Seton Merriman's Balarsch of the Guard [listen - track 12, 01:48 - 02:44].

TV viewers associate Gounod's Marche funèbre d'une marionette with the gloomy Alfred Hitchcock, but Massenet's Le dernier sommeil de la Vierge (a Beecham lollipop), Elégie (Peter Dixon, cello) and Méditation from Thaïs (Yuri Torchinsky, with chorus) have section leaders blending with orchestral colleagues, Offenbach's famous Barcarolle from The Tales of Hoffmann - also featuring a section of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Choir. Two contrasting pieces by Chabrier complete the bill - the sultry Habanera and effervescent Joyeuse marche. Studio 7, Manchester means first-rate sound, and you could slot the entire contents into the second half of a Prom, leaving everyone present with smiles on their faces.


Copyright © 7 June 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK







 << Music & Vision home          Sébastien de Brossard >>

Download realplayer G2 

To listen to the aural illustrations in this review,
you may need to download RealNetworks' realplayer G2.

Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews