ALBUM TITLE: Collection: French Bonbons
PERFORMER: BBC Philharmonic, Liverpool Philharmonic Choir/Yan Pascal Tortelier
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9765
After all their hard work for Roussel, Dutilleux, Boulanger and other French composers, Tortelier and his orchestra have certainly earned the right to an end-of-term party. There’s little competition for these 14 pieces in the catalogue, though they’re the kind of pieces that were staples on 78s and early LPs; Chandos has filled the gap in the market with pizzazz.
The CD gets off to a sparkling start with Hérold’s Zampa Overture – everybody knows it, but how often do you hear it? What isn’t there is a true French orchestral sound, but I’m quite willing to trade slightly acid strings and rapid wind vibrato for the unanimity that Tortelier brings to the ensemble, and the charm he imparts to the phrasing. These characteristics show up especially in numbers like Massenet’s Last Sleep of the Virgin, Chabrier’s Habanera or the Mignon Overture by Thomas. Above all, everyone sounds as if they’re having fun, even the chorus in Offenbach’s Barcarolle. Prize for the most obscure work goes to the Overture to Les dragons de Villars by Maillart, with stereophonic answering trumpet fanfares. Take regularly with a glass or two of champagne. Martin Cotton