For summer break listening, we’ve got two Recordings of the Month for the price of one, and they couldn’t be more different.
The first, Aux étoiles, is a beguiling double album of French Symphonic Poems played by the Orchestre National de Lyon under Nikolaj Szeps-Znaider (Bru Zane BZ2007). This deftly curated compilation mixes a handful of popular warhorses with a slew of absorbing rarities.
Highlights include Franck’s colourful Le Chasseur maudit, the tale of a Count from the Rhineland who goes hunting on a Sunday and is condemned to ride for eternity.
Most interesting, however, are four works by women. Mel Bonis’s Le Rêve de Cléopâtre is an impressionistic evocation of the Egyptian night. Augusta Holmès’ wistful La Nuit et l’Amour could be out of a Lehár operetta, while Lili Boulanger’s sparkling D’un matin de printemps conjures the terpsichorean joys of spring. Crowning the collection is the haunting Danse mystique by Charlotte Sohy.
Grandly conceived and ravishingly orchestrated, it’s also beautifully played, as is the entire enthralling collection.
Pianist Olli Mustonen also composes and conducts, as illustrated by a pair of hugely attractive works played by the Turku Philharmonic, Finland’s oldest orchestra (Ondine ODE14222). Symphony...