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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Luigi Cherubini - Overtures (Neville Marriner)


Information

Composer: Luigi Cherubini
  1. Eliza, ou Le Voyage au glacier du Mont St-Bernard'
  2. Médée
  3. L'Hôtellerie portugaise
  4. Les deux Journées, ou Le Porteur d'eau
  5. Anacréon ou L'Amour fugitif
  6. Faniska
  7. Les Abencérages, ou L'Étendard de Grenade
  8. Concert Overture

Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Neville Marriner, conductor

Date: 1992
Label: EMI Classics


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Review

With the exception of Médée, the operas of Cherubini are largely unknown territory these days. Even the overtures feature only very occasionally in the concert hall. Since they are works of more than passing interest, it is therefore a pleasure to welcome this ArkivCD reissue of a 1991 programme by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Neville Marriner.
 
Much of Cherubini’s best work for the opera house was written in Paris, under the influence of the Italian Giovanni Viotti (1753-1824), well described by Basil Deane as a “violinist, composer and musical entrepeneur”. It was at his prompting that Cherubini came to live in Paris in 1788. Less than perfect timing, of course, since it was the year before the revolution. In the context of the real dangers of the situation and under the political pressures – which prompted a concentration on certain kinds of libretti – Cherubini had no choice but to try to adapt himself to the new conventions. Operatically that initially meant works, often known as ‘rescue’ operas, in which the virtuous (and politically ‘correct’) were maltreated and imprisoned by the evil (and politically ‘incorrect’) before being eventually and triumphantly rescued. In Cherubini’s operas this ‘rescue’ was often not from literal imprisonment but by means of escape to an alternative place. This sense of tension and release plays some part in a number of these overtures.
 
There are many good things here. Eliza, ou Le voyage aux glaciers du Mont St-Bernard is set, somewhat improbably, amidst the snows of the Alps, and the final rescue is from an avalanche. The overture has dignity, a pleasant pastoral theme and a kind of picturesque grandeur (without any signs of the avalanche). The overture to Anacréon is a work of some delicacy and charm, music of real grace. The overture to Les Abencérages, ou L’Étendard de Grenade shows off Cherubini’s skills as an orchestrator to good effect, and entertainingly interweaves themes from the main body of the opera. L’Hôtelerie portugaise is a one-act comic opera – appealing to rather different tastes and requirements after the traumatic experience of the Terror. The music is sprightly and inventive, with echoes of ‘La Folia’ at one point. The overture to Médée is more familiar and, out by the side of the overture to L’Hôtelerie portugaise effectively illustrates something of Cherubini’s range. The dramatic qualities of the Médée overture are, to a degree, echoed in the well-made overture to Faniska (another ‘rescue’ opera).
 
One looks in vain for the overture to Lodoïska (1791) which did much to create the vogue for the ‘rescue’ opera, and the Concert Overture, written for the London Philharmonic Society, is a little on the ponderous side, doing relatively little with the material and ideas it contains. But, for the most part, the music on this disc is rewarding, adroitly constructed and full of attractive harmonic and melodic touches. Orchestra and conductor are on good form, though now and then a little more drive, a little more rhythmic bite wouldn’t have gone amiss.
 
-- Glyn PursgloveMusicWeb International

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Luigi Cherubini (8 or 14 September 1760 – 15 March 1842) was an Italian Classical and Romantic composer. Although born and educated in Florence, Cherubini felt constrained by Italian traditions and always eager to experiment. He then traveled to London in 1785, and later settled in Paris, France, where he spent the rest of his life. During his lifetime, Cherubini received France's highest and most prestigious honors. His most significant compositions are operas and sacred music. Beethoven regarded Cherubini as the greatest of his contemporaries, while his operas were heavily praised and interpreted by Rossini.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luigi_Cherubini

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Neville Marriner (15 April 1924 – 2 October 2016) is an English conductor. He was one of the most important of the early figures who spearheaded the reawakening of modern interest in Baroque and early Classical music. In the 1950s, he founded Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and his partnership with them is one of the most recorded of any orchestra and conductor. Marriner made over 600 recordings covering 2,000 different works for various labels, including Argo, L'Oiseau Lyre, Philips and EMI Classics. His recorded repertoire ranges from the baroque era to 20th-century music.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neville_Marriner

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