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Massenet: Ballet Music / Gallois, Barcelona


Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573123   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jules Massenet
Conductor:  Patrick Gallois
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony And Catalonia National Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc is just a peach. Jules Massenet’s ballet music brings together all the most charming musical trends of the 19th century: the new French ballet tradition, the lightness of Offenbach’s operettas, the lush tunes of Strauss’s Vienna, the big splashy orchestration of late-century “exotic” potboilers. The music keeps getting better and better as the CD goes along.

First I listened out of order and decided the opener, Bacchus, was my least favourite. Then I went in order and, mid-Bacchus, wondered what I had been complaining about. Yes, “Chasseresses et Bacchantes” has an early role for a percussion instrument so wimpily played that I’m not sure what it is, but then the most glorious Johann Strauss parody waltz breaks out
Read more and all is forgiven. Yes, the final bacchanale isn’t as crazy as Saint-Säens’ or Roussel’s, but what music is?

Hérodiade is an opera about Herod, where he’s the central character, in contrast with Richard Strauss’s Salome. The ballet music comes from a banquet where Herod entertains guests with dances by exotic slave girls from various foreign lands. It’s the shortest selection here.

Then we have big suites from Thaïs and Le Cid, each over 20 minutes, the highlights of the disc. Those who know Thaïs only for its “Meditation” will be happy to hear that the rest of the opera is also jam-packed with beautiful music. It’s varied, too, from the stern timpani roll of the opening andante to the perky Pierné-like flute and piccolo solos of the sixth movement, to the unexpected two-minute church-like organ solo. Le Cid is a festival of Spanish tropes, tunes and clichés from the very start. The inevitable cor anglais solo, in ‘Madrilène’, is just gorgeous. It’s as tuneful and colourful as the Spanish pastiches of Chabrier and Debussy, which is to say it’s a ton of fun.

The Barcelona Symphony plays excellently throughout, that one wimpy percussion issue confined to a single track. They seem to especially enjoy the Le Cid music, but who wouldn’t? Patrick Gallois continues to prove himself an extremely skilled, sensitive conductor of ballet music. You could imagine people dancing to this album. Given how good the music is, it’s extremely rare to have it collected on disc without the full operas alongside. Frémaux and Marriner have recorded Le Cid but for sound, panache and comprehensiveness, it’s hard to beat this. What fun.

– Brian Reinhart, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Thaïs: Ballet Suite by Jules Massenet
Conductor:  Patrick Gallois
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony And Catalonia National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1894; France 
2.
Hérodiade: Act 4 - Ballet music by Jules Massenet
Conductor:  Patrick Gallois
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony And Catalonia National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1881; France 
3.
Le Cid: Ballet music by Jules Massenet
Conductor:  Patrick Gallois
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony And Catalonia National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1885; France 
4.
Bacchus: Act 3 - Ballet Music by Jules Massenet
Conductor:  Patrick Gallois
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Barcelona Symphony And Catalonia National Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1909 

Sound Samples

Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Allegro moderato - Nocturne
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Faunes et Satyres
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: La Procession des Offrandes
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Chasseresses et Bacchantes
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Initiation I
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Initiation II
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Initiation III
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Initiation IV
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Le Bapteme par le Vin
Bacchus, Act III Tableau 2: Les Mysteres dionysiaques: Bacchanale
Herodiade, Act IV: Ballet: Les Egyptiennes
Herodiade, Act IV: Ballet: Les Babyloniennes
Herodiade, Act IV: Ballet: Les Gauloises
Herodiade, Act IV: Ballet: Les Pheniciennes
Herodiade, Act IV: Ballet: Final
Thais Ballet Music: I. Andante
Thais Ballet Music: II. Largo
Thais Ballet Music: III. Presto vivace
Thais Ballet Music: IV. Andante cantabile
Thais Ballet Music: V. Scherzetto molto vivace
Thais Ballet Music: VI. Allegretto moderato
Thais Ballet Music: VII. Tres lent
Thais Ballet Music: VIII. Andante religioso
Thais Ballet Music: IX. Allegro vivace frenetico
Thais Ballet Music: X. Allegro moderato
Le Cid Ballet Suite: I. Castillane
Le Cid Ballet Suite: II. Andalouse
Le Cid Ballet Suite: III. Aragonaise
Le Cid Ballet Suite: IV. Aubade
Le Cid Ballet Suite: VI. Madrilene
Le Cid Ballet Suite: V. Catalane
Le Cid Ballet Suite: VII. Navarraise

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Excellent Throughout July 18, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "This is a magnificent recording of 'ballet music' from four operas by French composer Jules Massenet. Consisting of 32 tracks, the vast majority of which are of only 2-3 minutes duration, the program presents brilliantly orchestrated passages from the operas Bacchus, Herodiade, Thais, and Le Cid. There is not a trace of dissonance and very little angst-laced tension in these exuberant, boisterous, and altogether captivating musical statements. As you can probably guess from the tone of these comments, the high quality of Massenet's writing provides the core value of this outstanding Naxos disk, but the icing on the cake here is the spirited, dedicated playing of Spain's excellent Barcelona Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the excellent French conductor Patrick Gallois. This is not wildly Romantic music in the style of Berlioz by any means, but its wonderful French flavor is nevertheless unmistakable throughout the entire recording. And with the music from Le Cid, which has a Spanish story line, the color and beauty of Spanish orchestral music comes to life with passion, as the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra rises to the occasion with a decidedly 'homegrown' and impressive interpretation of Massenet's 'Spanish opera.' All in all, I am sure you will find this to be a superb listening experience, and thus I can highly recommend this fine disk." Report Abuse
 Fine orchestral music January 22, 2014 By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA) See All My Reviews "This release presents four ballet suites compiled from Massent operas. The most famous of these is "Thais," the origin of Massenet's greatest hit. The ballet music proves to be of similar quality, conveying the drama and the sensual nature of the title role, interspersed with moments of pious religiosity (there's an extended sequence for solo organ, for example). The suite from "Herodiade" is in a similar vein, and no wonder -- the opera concerns Herod, Salome, and the death of John the Baptist. A good portion of this suite uses Jewish melodic turns to set the stage. Lesser known are Massenet's operas "Bacchus" and "Le Cid." The former is based on Greek myth, and its ballet sequences are the most straight-forward of Massenet's works on this recording. By contrast, "Le Cid" is all about evoking the flavor of Spain (albeit filtered through a French sensibility). Overall, this is fine orchestral music that provides a pleasant listening experience. Patrick Gallois conducts the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra in a straight-forward fashion, letting the inherently dramatic nature of the music come through on its own. Perhaps, given the location of the orchestra, it's not surprising that the suite to "Le Cid" seems to sound a little more engaging." Report Abuse
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