Jules Massenet is famous for his series of 27 operas that include Manon and Werther, but he also wrote a significant portfolio of orchestral music which include ballets, orchestral suites and incidental music. The works presented here show his versatility and lyricism and include the one-act ballet Espada, saturated in Iberian color and beguiling rhythms, as well as Les Érinnyes (‘The Furies’) with a vivid sequence of contrasting themes. Modeled after Liszt, Visions is a poème-symphonique of both ethereal and dramatic power.
Between JoAnn Falletta and Jean-Luc Tingaud, Naxos seems to be cornering the market when it comes to unusual but worthy repertoire. Tingaud’sRead more specialty, unsurprisingly, has (thus far) focused on French music, and this Massenet collection includes some pretty nifty and rare titles. Visions, for example, is a symphonic poem in Lisztian style dating from 1891, and it’s an imposing and impressive fourteen-minute hunk of good, romantic music. Brumaire is a powerful, militant overture that belies the composer’s reputation as little more than a soft orchestral voluptuary.
The Espada Suite is another in the seemingly endless series of French works with a Spanish flavor, and it’s none the worse for that. Best of all, perhaps, is the incidental music to Érinnyes (The Furies). Dating from 1876, this substantial half hour of music features an extended “Scène religieuse” and a three-movement divertissement full of memorable and vigorous ideas. The program concludes with the darkly dramatic overture Phèdre–like all of the music here very well played and conducted with real conviction. The sonics, too, do the music proud. I love this stuff, and I suspect that you will too.
Rare Massenet is always welcomeFebruary 24, 2021By Leslie A. (Washington, DC)See All My Reviews"Granted, you will not find masterpieces here. But as a good French composer, Massenet was a splendid orchestrator and the program is varied, colorful and very well played and recorded."Report Abuse