LABELS: Opus 111
WORKS: Les deux journées
PERFORMER: Mireille Delunsch, Yann Beuron, Andreas Schmidt, Kwangchul Youn; Chorus Musicus Köln, Das Neue Orchester/Christoph Spering
CATALOGUE NO: OP 30306
Luigi Cherubini has become something of a connoisseurs’ composer – with Riccardo Muti leading the field of devotees today – but he was once very popular. Indeed, it is not hard to see why Les deux journées (1800) was so well-loved in the 19th century, and its lively and fresh music represented a shift in the composer’s style. Goethe was a great admirer, as was Beethoven, and the noble message of political reconciliation in this ‘rescue opera’ makes the influence on Fidelio plain for all to hear. (Inspired by a real-life incident, the plot was transposed to the 17th century to avoid censorship.) Its ‘comédie lyrique’ form means that it embraces spoken dialogue (omitted here), and there are instances of melodrama.
The period movement has yet to embrace Cherubini, but Christoph Spering’s invigorating performance shows what revelations are in store, and the cast is excellent. Armand, the liberal-minded count whose life is saved by the watercarrier Mikeli and his son Antonio, is sung with smooth nobility by the tenor Yann Beuron; Constance, his countess, is taken with focused radiance by Mireille Delunsch. Andreas Schmidt’s lyrical bass and Étienne Lescroart’s light but slightly reedy tenor are heard to good advantage as Mikeli and Antonio. John Allison