Another feather in the Dutoit/Montreal/Decca cap, not least for the sound engineers' achievement in so brilliantly capturing the mammoth sonorities of the Symphonie funebre et triomphale (whose first performance Berlioz conducted walking backwards at the head of his huge wind-and-percussion band, though—alas for the legend!—with a baton, not a sword). For concert hall, rather than open air performance he later added strings and a chorus, and it is this version that is adopted here (as it was in Colin Davis's 1969 Philips recording). Splendid as that issue was, this new one even surpasses it in clarity and impact, with its majestic brass chords and a chorus that adds incisively to the final climax.
For listeners who prefer their Ravel lushly textured, luminously colored, and luxuriantly impressionistic, this four-disc set of his orchestral music performed by Charles Dutoit and the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal will be just the thing. Recorded between 1981 and 1995 in warmly opulent Decca sound and including all the canonical works plus the two piano concerts and the opera L'Enfant et les sortiléges, Dutoit's approach to Ravel is decidedly sensual, even tactile. One can feel the excitement in the closing "Dance générale" of Daphnis et Chloé, sense the energy in La Valse, smell the sea in Une barque sur l'océan, and touch the dancer's flushed skin in Boléro. This is not to say that details are lost in Dutoit's performances – with the superlative playing of the Montreal orchestra, one can assuredly hear everything in the scores. Nor is this to say that Dutoit neglects the music's clear shapes and lucid forms – with a decisive beat and a clean technique, Dutoit's interpretations are models of clarity. But it is assuredly to assert that, for sheer aural beauty, these recordings cannot be beat. With the very virtuosic and very French playing of Pascal Rogé in the two piano concertos plus very characterful singing in L'Enfant, this set will be mandatory listening for all those who love Ravel.
A trim, at times, almost balletic Falstaff. If that seems a ludicrous contradiction, I should explain that it refers to Dutoit's spirited interpretation of the work, not the central character, though Falstaff himself has shed a few pounds in the process but is no less loveable. Indeed, Dutoit's swift tempo for the second section (at the Boar's Head) has the theme for Falstaff's 'cheerful look and pleasing eye' sounding less like Tovey's understandable misunderstanding of it as ''blown up like a bladder with sighing and grief''. The trimming down process is abetted by the Montreal sound, with lean, agile strings and incisive brass (the horns are magnificent). Some may feel a lack of warmth in the characterization. I certainly felt that the first presentation of Prince Harry's theme (0'40'') could have done with a richer string sonority. Doubtless, too, there will be collectors who, at moments, miss the generous humanity of Barbirolli, or the Straussian brilliance of Solti. And although Mackerras is wonderful in the dream interludes and Falstaff's death, the start of his fourth section, with Falstaff's rush to London only to be rejected by the new King, is short on teeming excitement and anticipation. (Gramophone)
Indie rock outfit of Montreal has announced a new self-released double album I Feel Safe With You, Trash, which will be out on March 5 via Bandcamp. The A-Side for this LP was already released last month via Patreon, with the B-Side is due out this month on the service. Four of the albums’ songs have also been released on Bandcamp.
Maestro Dutoit and his orchestra really make Berlioz' orchestral showpiece glow in all of its colorful splendour, but with enough tenderness and warm lyricism in the more reflective, dreamy parts. But 'Un bal' really sways and swaggers with appropriate grandiloquence. The 'Scene aux champs' is played wonderfully poised and concentrated, but with a lot of warmth as well, helped of course by the mellifluous, wonderfully blended tone of the orchestra.
French Baroque composer Marin Marais is primarily known for his inward-looking viol music, but he also worked as a "measure beater" at the Académie royale de musique, the institution that evolved into the Paris Opéra, and he wrote vocal music of various kinds, as well. This disc presents instrumental excerpts from Marais' 1709 opera Sémélé. These excerpts are dances, marches, and slightly longer orchestra passages "symphonies," "préludes," an overture, and "entreés" for groups of personages that appear on-stage in the opera.
The Orchestre symphonique de Montréal and its Music Director Rafael Payare make their Pentatone debut with Mahler’s 5th Symphony. The album is also the first recording under Payare’s tenure, and the beginning of a longer recording relationship with the label. For Payare, the Fifth is the last symphony that shows Mahler still looking forward to what the future might bring, unlike his subsequent, much darker and existential works. Despite that optimism, there is enough tragedy and struggle along the way, resonating with Mahler’s life at the time of creation. Payare’s proficiency in late-Romantic repertoire coupled with the matured, distinctive sound of the Montréal players make this a collaboration to look out for.
Commemorating the 25th anniversary of one of the worst natural disasters in Quebec's history while celebrating the courage and collective humanity that emanated from it, Ice Storm Symphony (Symphonie de la tempete de verglas) takes the listener into a whirlwind of music by Quebecois composer Maxime Goulet. The program features Orchestre classique de Montreal under the direction of Jacques Lacombe performing three of Goulet's compositions: Fishing Story, What a Day, and the title work.
This disc is the debut entry in a full cycle of Bach's cantatas to come from Canada's Montreal Baroque historical performance ensemble. Conductor Eric Milnes opts for the controversial approach of having just one voice per part – the four soloists, joined together – in the choral movements, with no choir in sight.