Notes and Editorial Reviews
Although no stranger to repose the abiding impression left by this music is of flames licking at its heels. It looks back to late Mozart (40, 41) and forward to the wondrously gifted Méhul and beyond to Beethoven's Eroica and even Brahms and Berwald.
Rigel was born in Wertheim and studied in Germany with Jommelli and Richter. In 1767 he moved to Paris which he made his home. He was a well-loved figure in the French capital with symphonies, oratorios and concertos flowing in abundance. The French Revolution drew a number of politically suitable works from him. He was a leading teacher at the newly established Paris Conservatoire. The life story is nicely outlined by Benoît Dratwicki in the integral liner-note.
Rigel’s twenty-plus symphonies vied in Paris with those of Gossec and Leduc. The symphonies represented here range in duration from 10:03 to 15:33. The Fourth is full of enthralling detail. Rigel adopts the orchestral style familiar to us from early Beethoven and Mozart but there are many original touches. This is impetuous music - a child of the buffeting storm with gruff horns and a cauldron of classical conflict. The Seventh starts imperially emphatic. It is at times reminiscent of Beethoven's Seventh and the Great Ludwig’s bull-in-a-classical-china-shop manner. Even so this elbows-out approach is tempered by the kindly harpsichord continuo so noticeably absent from the Fourth. The Eighth is full of charming touches including seductive wind solos and surprisingly ear-tickling dynamic contrasts. Its central slow movement shows the mulch from which Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique grew. Number 14 has a startlingly inventive apple-pure pizzicato middle movement and a really Mozartean sense of peaceful repose. The gallant finale races along with chasseur horns. The Tenth Symphony combines dignity and exuberance which bridges the exhilaration of the Mozart K364 Sinfonia Concertante, the London Symphonies of Haydn and, in the finale, the Rossini overtures.
These outstanding performances are resonantly recorded, delightful in their range of physical impact and rippling with life. I hope there will be Rigel sequels.
- Rob Barnett,
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