Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Classic 100 Music of France - Day 3

Today was light on opera, no complaints from me but there's some that will definitely still appear. Actually I expect Carmen to be a top 10, and Pearl Fishers and Lakme to be at least top 25. Interesting a couple of film scores got in too, both by Jarre. I remember the horror some musical snobs had when some soundtracks made it in last year. But hey, there's some awesome music written for movies and it deserves to be recognised.

Baroque made a few more appearances today which was good to hear. Interesting coincidence was the day opened with back to back Te Deums - Berlioz's and Charpentier's. The former I hadn't heard at all before and it was interesting to hear the way the organ and choir could achieve such a soft touch in the reflective passages. No surprises on the grand nature of the triumphant ones though.

Probably the most fun discovery for me was Offenbach's Gaite Parisiene which was a jolly romp for the most. A little bit last night of the Proms at times perhaps, but good to hear where the Can-Can came from in full. Also interesting to hear the barcarolle in context too, very different to most of the work as a whole but a pleasant respite, like a grand sunset after a busy day in Paris - or should that be a grand sunrise after a night of festivities?

Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand is a dramatic one, very different to his jazzier concerto in G. There's a gentle passage toward the end which is utterly beautiful, took my breath away. Some lovely use of other instruments too. Debussy's Cello Concerto No 1 was an intriguing one too, not quite as smooth as some of his earlier works but still a strong composition, obviously. His String Quartet on the other hand was quite astounding, a strong and innovative take on the form.

I saw a few people were waiting for Durufle's Requiem, for me it was another first. Such a dark landscape is conjured by it, desolate yet beautiful, then the Sanctus brings some sort of light and hope. And the Agnes Dei lifts us up from the shattered ground and offers solace and rest. No wonder people were waiting.

Poulenc's Organ Concerto was dramatic certainly but I can't say it was entirely to my tastes. I didn't dislike it but didn't do anything for me.

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