Meyerbeer: Struensee (incidental music); Les patineurs from Le prophete; Prelude to L’africaine

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Meyerbeer
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Struensee (incidental music); Les patineurs from Le prophete; Prelude to L’africaine
PERFORMER: NDR PO & Chorus/Michail Jurowski
CATALOGUE NO: 999 336-2
Few reputations in Romantic music have suffered the reversal of Meyerbeer’s. In his heyday in the mid-19th century his operas enjoyed enormous popularity, and he influenced composers as varied as Smetana and Verdi, not to mention Wagner, who became chief among Meyerbeer’s detractors. Owing to the costs of staging his huge Grand Operas, chances to assess his work are relatively few, thus this new issue of his incidental music for his youngest brother’s drama Struensee is very welcome.

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These 12 numbers seem slightly disjointed, but they offer abundant evidence of Meyerbeer’s feeling for instrumental colour, dramatic atmosphere and graceful melody, not to mention occasional outbursts of bombast. The performances are not faultless, but they are more than serviceable in a worthy cause. Jan Smaczny