Good, Slightly Cautious French Program from Yamada

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 8

Kazuki Yamada leads the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in an appealing program of French classics. The Roussel unquestionably fares best, and it’s the major work on the disc. Yamada offers both Bacchus et Ariane suites, which means essentially the complete ballet. The music is strong on rhythm, and so is this performance, alongside well-chosen tempos and a keen ear for textural balance. The only thing missing, I would suggest, is that last ounce of fire at the climaxes, and a willingness to sacrifice polish for sheer force in the concluding Bacchanale. So many conductors today seem unwilling to “let go” when the music demands it–you can do it without sacrificing control, as such diverse figures as Charles Munch and Igor Markevitch showed us in this very music. Still, it’s a fine performance overall.

The couplings are thoughtful. Ansermet’s sensitive orchestration of the Six épigraphes antiques is very pretty, and it was made for this orchestra. It’s good to have, but it’s not major Debussy by any means. Just about every performance of the suite from Les Biches sounds tame after Tingaud’s on Naxos, and this one is no exception. To be sure, it’s well played (the Rag-Mazurka especially), but it lacks the exhilaration–that sense of fun that Poulenc build into the score, and that a performance with more fizz would have delivered. That said, this disc is an attractive proposition overall, well recorded, if perhaps a little bass-shy. You can check it out with confidence.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None for this coupling

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