An Auber Overture Cycle Begins

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

They don’t write overtures, entr’actes, or incidental music like this anymore. Even today’s composers can learn from Daniel Auber’s clear-cut orchestration, sure way with a melody, rhythmic vivacity, and impeccable instinct for how to gauge and build climaxes for maximum effect and (one assumes) applause. In this first volume of a projected cycle aiming to cover all of the overtures to Auber’s stage works, we get largely unfamiliar yet recognizable music of the type that used to turn up on both serious and “pop” orchestral concerts far more frequently than in today’s Mahler/Bruckner-heavy programs.

Auber’s not deep, to be sure, yet he’s inventive and ear-catching. What wonderful woodwind writing supported by pizzicato strings at the outset of Le Timide. What nifty scurrying chromatic runs and ostinatos near the Leicester Overture’s conclusion. Or, just try not to relish the tried-and-true “Rossini crescendo” capping Le Séjour militaire: Auber knew what worked, and he made it work without fuss or seeming effort.

Dario Salvi’s sense of style and pacing cannot be faulted, even if his orchestra seems underpowered and lacking in dynamic heft, which may partly be due to dryish sonics. An earlier all-Auber release from Naxos with the Orchestre Régional de Cannes under Wolfgang Dörner offers better engineered and more vivacious performances of different repertoire. Furthermore, that disc also was designated Volume 1; does that mean that Naxos has two rival Auber cycles afoot? However, the present release deserves attention on account of the repertoire’s rarity and Robert Ignatius Letellier’s excellent and informative annotations.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None for this collection

    Overtures and Incidental Music from Le Maçon; Le Timide; Leicester; Le Séjour militaire; Emma; La Neige; Le Testament; & Le Bergère chatelaine

    Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, Dario Salvi

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