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French Orchestral Music / Bertrand De Billy, Vienna Rso

Vienna Rso / De Billy
Release Date: 01/01/2004 
Label:  Oehms   Catalog #: 329  
Composer:  Georges BizetClaude DebussyMaurice RavelAlbert Roussel,   ... 
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Bertrand de Billy, chief conductor of the the Radio- Symphony Orchestra Vienna and of the Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona, was most recently praised by both critics and audiences for his remarkable recording of Eugen d´Albert´s Tiefland.

About the Works:

This present first selection of French orchestral music includes essentially the classics of the repertoire. The oldest – Georges Bizet – was born in 1838, and the youngest – Maurice Ravel – in 1875. These pieces have in common that they are all connected with dance, whether they are suites from large ballets, such as the works from Roussel and Fauré, or whether the various dance forms provided the patterns for the compositions or are
Read more quoted, as with Bizet, Debussy and Ravel. This programme gives a very fine impression of the development of Impressionism in French music, as well as of the specific use of solo instruments. In the present recording, these are principally the violin, the flute and the horn.

The version of Georges Bizet´s Carmen Suite presented contains a combination from the two wellknown suites. As well as the four introductions to the separate acts of the opera, the Nocturne represents a version of Micaela’s aria for solo violin, and the Danse Bohème is a version of the trio of Carmen, Mercedes und Frasquita in the third act.

Claude Debussy´s Prélude à L`après-midi d´un faune can safely be described as one of the bestknown works of French orchestral literature. It is generally considered to be one of the first adequate musical responses to the new impressionist lyricism in France.

First performed in 1894, the music draws the listener into a remarkable, profound world of colours and mood such as probably had scarcely been heard before in this form. Inspired by a poem of Mallarmé, Debussy illustrates his associations, as if broken up by a prism.

“It is no song of mourning for a dead child, but rather the idea of a Pavane as it could have been danced by such a young princess, as Velázquez would have painted her at the Spanish court.” Thus the composer himself described his orchestral piece, Pavane pour une Infante défunte, first performed in Paris in 1911, which, like many of his other compositions, was actually based on a piano composition. The Pavane, a slow court dance with a processional character, originally stemming from Padua, is first intoned by Maurice Ravel with a solo horn, and then taken up gradually by strings and woodwind.

If Bizet, Debussy and Ravel are permanent guests on all opera and concert stages, Albert Roussel, born in 1869, is much less well-known in our latitudes. In his home country, he is counted among the pathfinders of modern French music. At the start of his career, he oriented himself thoroughly to Debussy, but soon went far beyond him both harmonically and in the richness of his tone palette. Although his works always maintain a certain clarity of form and of the conduct of the voices, an often complicated rhythmic approach and irregular bar structures point far into the future. The ballet-pantomine Le Festin de l´Araignée (The Spider´s Feast) was first performed in Paris in 1913 as Roussel’s Op. 17, with great success. The action plays in the corner of a garden. Many insects have been caught in a net, and are preparing themselves for death, while the spider thinks of the opulent feast, but does not forget that it is itself in danger of being consumed by a praying mantis. The ballet finally concludes with a one-day funeral celebration, after which the peace and calm of the evening again return to the garden.

Roussel himself produced the orchestral suite from the ballet, which lasts barely 40 minutes, bringing together the most important components with dramaturgic skill. Gabriel Fauré, born in 1845, is on the one hand somewhat less well-known than Bizet, Debussy and Ravel, but on the other hand better known than Albert Roussel. His Requiem Op. 48 is often performed here too. Less well-known is his work for the stage Masques et bergamasques, a work commissioned by the court of Monaco and first performed in Monte Carlo in 1919, which attempts to couple song, ballet and spoken dialog in the form of a “Divertissement”. Three of the four movements (the whole Divertissement contains 8 movements) of the present suite, Op. 112, are based on youthful works of the composer, with only the closing Pastorale dating from the year 1918. The text and music of the stage work on which it is based seek to conjure up the cheerful-melancholy rococo world of the Fêtes Galantes, a cycle of poems by Paul Verlaine which appeared in 1869, from the first lines of which the title is also borrowed:

“Your soul is a choice landscape in which enchanting masques and bergamasques proceed …”

-- Michael Lewin
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Works on This Recording

Carmen: Suite by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1875; France 
Prélude ŕ l'aprčs-midi d'un faune by Claude Debussy
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1892-1894; France 
Pavane pour une infante défunte by Maurice Ravel
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1899; France 
Le festin de l'araignée, Op. 17 by Albert Roussel
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912; France 
Masques et bergamasques Suite, Op. 112 by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  Bertrand De Billy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; France 

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