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Felicien David: Le Desert

Felicien David , Guido Maria Guida , Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin , Bruno Lazzaretti Audio CD
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product details

  • Performer: Bruno Lazzaretti
  • Orchestra: Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin
  • Conductor: Guido Maria Guida
  • Composer: Felicien David
  • Audio CD (15 Jun 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: CAPRICCIO
  • ASIN: B001TY54I4
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,010 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Ode symphonie en trois parties / Olivier Pascalin, récitant - Bruno Lazzaretti, ténor - Chœur de la Cathédrale de St. Hedwig de Berlin - Orchestre Symphonique de la Radio de Berlin - Guido Maria Guida, direction

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is a re-issue of a recording that originally formed part of a three-disc set from Capriccio entitled 'Les Brises d'Orient', a commendable enterprise in many ways that contained well-known and not-so-familiar musical fare from the Romantic period all with an Oriental theme: sadly, the collection as a whole was marred by average (and sometimes worse) sound quality and, at times, some frankly dreadful orchestral playing - the performance of 'Scheherazade' in particular was a complete dud on both fronts. Recordings of that Russian masterpiece are ten-a-penny, of course, but this is - as far as I'm aware - the sole opportunity to hear Felicien David's ode-symphonie 'Le Desert' of 1844.

Happily, this curious hybrid work - more a series of descriptive and evocative tableaux than a symphony proper - received one of the better performances in Capriccio's survey so this disc provides the listener with a fair if not ideal sense of what David's most successful work sounds like. To modern ears, familiar with the Orientalist orchestral sounds of later composers such as Rimsky-Korsakov or, in David's France, Saint-Saens and Florent Schmitt, the musical evocations of the Middle East here might sound relatively mild but in the 1840s they were something quite novel, even radical (compare the Orientalism of 'Le Desert' to Schumann's 'Das Paradies und die Peri', for instance) - and they had claims to authenticity too, some of the melodic material used having been collected by the composer during a tour of Egypt and Ottoman territories.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An attractive work in a very fine performance 13 Feb 2010
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This is in many ways an important (re)release. Félicien César David (1810-1876) was a rather central figure in his day, apparently the one who introduced the then-popular (and later thoroughly unpopular) exoticism into French romanticism. His music is flowingly romantic, sometimes reminiscent of Berlioz and Verdi, but also pointing forward to Massenet and Gounod - in fact, if I were to sum it up, `midway between Berlioz and Massenet' seems apt, even though he lacks Berlioz's striking originality and drama and doesn't quite anticipate Massenet's lush tunefulness.

Le Désert is a dramatic symphony, or `Ode Symphonie' for speaker, solo tenor, male chorus and orchestra, and was written in 1844 (which makes it rather modern-sounding for its date of composition). The program depicts the tribulations and travails of a caravan journeying through the desert, in the first part from the calm, chilly dawn in Sahara (where it appears from afar in the manner of Borodin's Steppes of Central Asia) through a storm and to the calmly noble resumption of the journey. The second part, depicting a night in the desert, is colorful and mostly reflective with some rather seductive orientalist atmosphere. The third part opens with music of the dawn and an effective chant du Muezzin before the caravan resumes its journey disappearing into the distance. It closes with a grand, Beethoven-like finale.

It is not a masterpiece, and the themes aren't really strikingly memorable, but it is a well-crafted work, finely scored, atmospheric and colorful enough to sustain interest throughout. Lazzaretti sings the tenor part with conviction and he is backed by fine choral singing and orchestral playing. It all adds up to a pretty strong case for this attractive work, and the recording is good. All in all, I am very glad to have heard this one, and it should certainly appeal to everyone who thinks the description `mixture of Berlioz and Massenet, perhaps some Lalo and Gounod thrown in' sounds attractive. Very welcome, if not an essential release.
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