Jules Massenet has long been associated primarily with opera,while his orchestral works have gone unappreciated. This collection of overtures, ballet music, and concert pieces, each with its own unique orchestral colour, showcases Massenet’s orchestral writing at its finest. The Orchestre de la Suisse Romande is conducted by its Music and Artistic Director, Neeme Järvi.
From the opening diminished seventh chord of the concert work Ouverture de ‘Phèdre’ it is clear that we are in a world of high drama. Commissioned in 1874 for performance in Paris, it is based on Racine’s play of the same name.
Written in the same year, but in complete contrast, is the Scènes pittoresques, full of a grace and elegance that is often reminiscent of Tchaikovsky. The ‘Suite de ballet’ from Le Cid evokes yet another sound world, one of exotic colours and exuberant celebration, its seven movements featuring dance music from different regions of Spain.
Also featured on this disc are a number of works involving a solo cello, performed here by Truls Mørk, one of the pre-eminent cellists of our time. He shines a light on Massenet’s little-known Fantaisie for cello and orchestra, a fine piece rarely heard on disc or in the concert hall.