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Bizet: L'Arlesienne Suites, Faure, Gounod / Yamada, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Bizet / Orchestre De La Suisse Romande / Yamada
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Pentatone   Catalog #: 5186358   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Georges BizetGabriel FauréCharles Gounod
Conductor:  Kazuki Yamada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

BIZET L’Arlésienne : Suites Nos. 1 and 2. FAURÉ Masques et bergamasques : Suite. GOUNOD Faust : Ballet Music Kazuki Yamada, cond; Suisse Romande O PENTATONE 5186 358 (SACD: 69:56)

Kazuki Yamada is a young Japanese conductor. He has been principal guest conductor of the Suisse Read more Romande Orchestra since 2010. He possesses taste and technique. Here he has chosen a program of French music that strongly reveals a maestro’s sense of style, and he has delivered it generally with the utmost distinction. In Bizet’s L’Arlésienne suites, Yamada can give an old master like Ormandy a run for his money. The Prélude of the first suite is noble and vigorous, with flexible tempos. Its second section features a beautiful saxophone solo. The Minuetto feels coy and delicious, while the Adagietto seems to depict a night scene in the country. The concluding Carillon is loaded with color, its second section like shepherds piping. In the second suite, arranged after Bizet’s death by his friend Ernest Guiraud, the opening Pastorale has a Brahmsian tone. The dance rhythms in its second episode are notably spritely. The Intermezzo, also known as the Agnus Dei, is stately yet passionate. A lovely flute solo enhances the Menuet. Yamada’s concluding Farandole is rollicking and exciting. It was interesting to compare this recording with the 1958 version by this same orchestra under Ernest Ansermet. Back then, the Suisse Romande possessed a reedier, more old fashioned French sound. Ansermet’s accents are more dramatic than Yamada’s, but the greater virtuosity with which the orchestra today performs Yamada’s interpretation is very winning. They both are superb accounts of L’Arlésienne.

In the suite from Fauré’s Masques et bergamasques , Yamada approximates Ansermet’s account of this work. Yamada captures Fauré’s evanescent idiom with great acuity. His phrasing has vigor, yet the music’s ethereal quality never is undermined. The orchestra plays beautifully. The Menuet and the Gavotte both possess an antique flavor without ever seeming precious. The final Pastorale has the most delicate passion. Yamada’s rendition of the ballet music from Gounod’s Faust is a broad, colorful statement of the work. It is not always ideally danceable, but remains viable interpretively all the same. The Adagio begins by almost stopping motion, like a painting of dancers by Degas. Cleopatra’s music sounds appropriately sinuous. Les Troyennes has an unusually delicate, winsome quality. The concluding dance features both power and elegance. The most refined recording of this music I know is on a 1956 monaural LP from Vox by Jonel Perlea and the Pro Musica Symphony, Vienna. A more conventionally danceable approach than Yamada’s on CD is the version by Alexander Gibson. The CD stereo sound quality for Yamada is excellent, beautifully balanced with plenty of tone color. I could not access the surround sound version. This album is quite an achievement for a young conductor. The Bizet and the Fauré in particular are performances any maestro could be proud of. It is good to hear the Suisse Romande still offering French music to the manner born.

FANFARE: Dave Saemann
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Works on This Recording

L'arlésienne: Suite no 1 by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Kazuki Yamada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1872; France 
L'arlésienne: Suite no 2 by Georges Bizet
Conductor:  Kazuki Yamada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: France 
Masques et bergamasques Suite, Op. 112 by Gabriel Fauré
Conductor:  Kazuki Yamada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1919; France 
Faust: Ballet Music by Charles Gounod
Conductor:  Kazuki Yamada
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Suisse Romande Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1859; France 

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