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Paul Dukas: L'apprenti Sorcier; Velleda; Polyeucte

Dukas / Siecles / Roth
Release Date: 02/11/2014 
Label:  Actes Sud   Catalog #: 12   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Paul Dukas
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Siècles
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This enterprising disc contains the premiere recording of Velléda, a Prix-de-Rome cantata from 1888 (it took second prize). It’s a much better work than the two overtures (King Lear and Goetz de Berlichingen) released on a Sterling CD a little while ago. The plot is Norma in a teapot. Velléda is a Druid priestess in love with a Roman soldier whose father drives her to suicide–in less than half an hour. The music includes an atmospheric prelude, delicately scored, an effective storm scene, and an aptly melodramatic conclusion. The style had to be conservative–or else no prize–but Dukas does “conservatory chic” quite well, and the piece is worth a listen.

The other two pieces are chestnuts, although the Polyeucte
Read more Overture isn’t as well known as it used to be. The main novelty, both here and in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, is the use of period instruments, and the best thing I can say about the performances is that you’d never know it. These are just smashing performances of both works, fresh, lively, transparent, and full of character. The climax of Apprentice, in particular, marking the reappearance of the sorcerer at the height of the orchestral chaos, is just tremendous. The soloists in the cantata are also pretty good, although as Velléda soprano Chantal Santon’s otherwise attractive timbre lacks steadiness on sustained notes. The live sonics are natural and full.

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
L'apprenti sorcier by Paul Dukas
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Siècles
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1897; France 
Date of Recording: 04/12/2011 
Venue:  La Scuola Grande di San Rocco à Venise 
Length: 11 Minutes 23 Secs. 
2.
Vélléda, cantata for soloists & orchestra by Paul Dukas
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1888 
Date of Recording: 04/12/2011 
Venue:  La Scuola Grande di San Rocco à Venise 
Length: 4 Minutes 46 Secs. 
3.
Polyeucte by Paul Dukas
Conductor:  François-Xavier Roth
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1891; France 
Date of Recording: 05/31/2012 
Venue:  L'Abbaye de l'Épau 
Length: 14 Minutes 41 Secs. 

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