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Monday, August 21, 2017

Jacques Offenbach - Romantique (Marc Minkowski; Jérôme Pernoo)


Composer: Jacques Offenbach
  1. (01) Orpheus in the Underworld (Orphée aux enfers): Ouverture
  2. (02-04) Cello Concerto in G major "Militaire"
  3. (05-07) Le Fées du Rhin: Overture, Ballet & Valse
  4. (08-15) Voyage to the Moon (Le voyage dans la lune)

Jérôme Pernoo, cello (2-4)
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Marc Minkowski, conductor

Date: 2007
Label: Deutsche Grammophon



Unexpected fare: music from the Liszt of the cello and the king of operetta

Long before he scored his big success as a composer of operettas with Orphée aux enfers, Offenbach was renowned as the “Liszt of the Cello”, a virtuoso on the instrument. This 45-minute Concerto militaire is the most important of his compositions from that period, here recorded complete for the first time. After the composer’s death, the score was badly edited by cellist Jean-Max Clément, who reconstructed the second and third movements from piano sketches. He also cut passages in the first movement that he counted too difficult to play.

He was unaware that the Offenbach family archives contained complete versions of the second and third movements. Tragically, after Offenbach’s death the three movements were separately sold, and it has been due to the detective work of editor Jean-Christophe Keck that the scores of all three movements have finally been brought together.

Both the first movement and the finale introduce military themes, with timpani prominent in both, and with the main theme of the finale anticipating the rollicking style of the operettas. The Andante by contrast brings a warmly flowing melody beautifully written for the cello. The sound tends to be plummy but there is ample detail to bring out the fine quality of the performance by both Jérôme Pernoo and of the period orchestra under Marc Minkowski.

The fill-ups, dating from later in Offenbach’s career, add greatly to the attractions of the disc. The ballet from Les fées du Rhin (1864) intriguingly offers the first, instrumental, version of what later became the Barcarolle in Les contes d’Hoffmann. Best known is the overture to Orphée from 1874, while a year later he wrote the Snowflake Ballet for his fairytale light opera Le voyage dans la lune. This may be unexpected fare for the DG Archiv label but it is a most welcome issue.

-- Edward Greenfield, Gramophone

More reviews:


Jacques Offenbach (20 June 1819 – 5 October 1880) was a German-born French composer, cellist and impresario of the romantic period. He is remembered for his nearly 100 operettas of the 1850s–1870s and his uncompleted opera The Tales of Hoffmann, which remains part of the standard opera repertory. He was a powerful influence on later composers of the operetta genre, particularly Johann Strauss, Jr. and Arthur Sullivan. His best-known works were continually revived during the 20th century, and many of his operettas continue to be staged in the 21st.


Marc Minkowski (born 4 October 1962 in Paris) is a French conductor of classical music, especially known for his interpretations of French Baroque works. He began his musical career as a bassoonist for René Clemencic's Clemencic Consort and Philippe Pierlot's Ricercar Consort. In 1982 Minkowski formed "Les Musiciens du Louvre", an orchestra dedicated to showcasing French Baroque music. From 2008 to 2012, Minkowski was music director of Sinfonia Varsovia. His recordings have been issued by Deutsche Grammophon, Erato, EMI's Virgin Classics and Naïve Records.


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