Bizet • De­bussy • Ravel

BBC Music Magazine - - Orchestral -

Ravel: Ma mère l’oye – suite;

De­bussy: Fan­taisie for pi­ano and or­ches­tra (re­vised ver­sion);

Bizet: Sym­phony in C

An­drew von Oeyen (pi­ano); Pkf-prague Phil­har­mo­nia/ Em­manuel Vil­laume

Warner Clas­sics 9029562593 72:04 mins Three French works, each with a youth­ful slant. Bizet wrote his Sym­phony in C when aged just

17; De­bussy was only 27 when he com­posed the Fan­taisie for pi­ano and or­ches­tra; and Ravel’s Mother Goose suite was writ­ten orig­i­nally as a pi­ano duet for Mimie and

Jean Godeb­ski, the chil­dren of close friends. While the Ravel has a gen­tle in­no­cence, the Bizet and De­bussy pos­sess a frol­ick­ing fresh­ness of spirit.

The Pkf-prague Phil­har­mo­nia un­der Em­manuel Vil­laume con­vey an in­fec­tious sense of vi­brant fun, par­tic­u­larly in the Bizet Sym­phony: the outer move­ments sprightly bounce along with win­some deft­ness of touch in a smil­ing per­for­mance of this un­abashedly happy mu­sic. There is also much to en­joy in the Ravel, the wood­wind tim­bres exquisitely por­tray­ing the ‘Beauty and the Beast’ move­ment, as well as real zest to the chi­nois­erie in the per­for­mance of ‘Laideronette, Em­press of the Pago­das’. There is also ap­pro­pri­ate sparkle at the end of ‘Le jardin féerique’, mak­ing up for the lean-toned strings’ lack of lux­u­ri­ance and a slight stiff­ness in the open­ing ‘Pa­vane’.

The cen­tre­piece in ev­ery sense is De­bussy’s Fan­taisie. A work that is still too of­ten over­looked in the com­poser’s out­put, it would prob­a­bly have fared bet­ter if ex­plic­itly named as a con­certo, or an evoca­tively pic­turesque ti­tle. Pi­anist An­drew von Oeyen is a strong ad­vo­cate, never los­ing sight of the mu­si­cal ar­chi­tec­ture amidst the pre-echoes of La mer and shim­mer­ing slow move­ment. Vil­laume en­sures the vi­va­cious fi­nal move­ment, with its strong affin­ity with the com­poser’s con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous Danse (Taran­telle styri­enne), is truly rous­ing. Christo­pher Din­gle



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