Paray: Orch Works

Review by: David Hurwitz

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 8

This series of recordings of the works of Paul Paray represents a loving tribute from Detroit, his American base of operations. I’m not sure what exactly the Assumption Grotto Orchestra is (no doubt one of you will tell me), but the point is that they play very well indeed under the leadership of Eduard Perrone. If you have heard any of Paray’s music already recorded–the “Joan of Arc” Mass or the two symphonies–you will know that although he only composed part-time and never really made a career of it, his was a characterful voice in the early 20th-century French tradition. That means expert scoring and a generally scrupulous level of musical craftsmanship.

Even though the Symphony for Strings (an orchestal arrangement of an earlier string quartet) is more harmonically acerbic than the ballet, both pieces hover midway between the impressionistic idiom of Debussy and the more pungent, hard-edged style of composers such as Honegger and Roussel. The ballet Artémis troublée has a somewhat tortured history, being originally composed for a different scenario entirely, but on disc it’s not the plot that matters, and the music is quite arresting. If you enjoy, say, Roussel’s Bacchus et Ariane, then you will surely like this softer-grained but very entertaining near-relation.

As just mentioned, the Symphony is more harmonically dense than the ballet, its chromaticism perhaps a legacy of the Franck/d’Indy school, but once again it is very well-made and expertly arranged for the ensemble. The fine performances are vividly recorded from two very different sonic perspectives, which makes moving from one work to the next rather jarring. This would be less of a bother were not the music itself so compelling as to encourage continuous listening–but then this is quibbling. It’s great to see Paray’s music getting its due at last. He deserves the attention, from performers and listeners both.



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: None

PAUL PARAY - Artémis troublée; Symphonie d'archets


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