Monday, 8 October 2012

Classic 100 Music of France - Day 2

Day two saw a few more operas and the happy inclusion of some Baroque pieces. Berlioz maintained his lead but the others are catching up.

The important thing for this blog of course is the new pieces I discovered. There were quite a few, but special mention to Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole. It was apparently written with a violin virtuoso in mind so there’s a concerto aspect and the violin does fly along with the orchestra. Some really lovely symphonic sounds in it too, definitely one I’ll want to hear again.

Another discovery was Gounod’s St Cecilia Mass. I missed some of the beginning of this one but caught most of it. The quieter passages are sublime, but I found some of the more, triumphant shall we say, parts a bit meh. Nice but I wasn’t blown away, very austere I feel. Saint-Saens' Cello Concerto No 1 however was another great work. I love cello music and it really gets to dance in that one.

Poulenc’s Sonata for Flute and Piano was a delightful piece with some wonderful flights of the flute and piano, with some sudden contrasts too. I’m hearing Poulenc in bursts and whenever I do I like him more. Even his choral Gloria, which I first heard in yesterday’s countdown, was an exciting work, but I prefer his chamber works so far.

So glad to hear Faure’s Sicilienne and to learn about its history. I had thought it was part of his Peleas and Melisande suite so when I saw the separate opus in the voting list I was a bit confused. Hearing that it actually started life as incidental music for a different play, was then resuscitated in a cello and piano arrangement before finally being used for the Maeterlinck play has cleared up my confusion. And the arrangement for cello and piano is beyond a doubt magnificent. As a side note my wife voted for that, she has good taste in music.

Addendum - So there's a wiki page about the countdown which is exciting. It also pointed out I miscounted and Debussy has pulled level with Berlioz. I expect he will have the most in the end.

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