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Symphonic Music - Released April 13, 2018 | harmonia mundi
Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
Recording Ravel's music on period instruments is the kind of thing that might raise a smile... until you realise just how much the production of instruments has changed in less than a hundred years: it's the return of catgut strings, skin drum heads, the French basson (and not the German system bassoon which is used across all the world's orchestras today), shaper tips, trumpets and trombones of French manufacture. At the head of his orchestra Les Siècles, François-Xavier Roth gives a new, orthodox, historically-informed version of Ma Mère l’oye (complete ballet), the Tombeau de Couperin and Shéhérazade, the long-neglected "ouverture de féérie" [Fairy Overture] which is pure Ravel. This return to the roots is clearly easier and more straightforwardly authentic for this period of music history, because, unlike earlier works, we possess recordings which date back to the 1920s, and even earlier, which can tell us about the style, the colours, the phrasing and the tempo. But it isn't enough just to have all this historical information to hand to make something interesting. What makes this record thrilling is that all the musicians in the Siècles are excellent, and François-Xavier Roth is a talented artist himself, who knows this music inside out. At which point, his complete recording of Stravinsky's Firebird has already struck us with its quality. This rediscovery of Ravel resounds with clarity and finesse; it is a feast of well-defined timbres which cuts against the "beautiful sound" which prevails in orchestras around the world today. © François Hudry/Qobuz
Symphonic Music - Released February 8, 2019 | harmonia mundi
The premiere of Mahler’s Third Symphony took place in June 1902 in Krefeld (not far from Düsseldorf), but it was indeed the Gürzenich Orchestra of Cologne which gave that first performance... greeted with acclaim – this was not always the composer’s experience with his masterpieces. Originally conceived as a hymn to Nature, in which the inert chaos of the opening movement is gradually left behind, the work calls for enormous forces (large orchestra, women’s choir, boys’ choir, and contralto soloist) and at each hearing leaves an unforgettable impression on the audience. Such was the case in October 2018, when François-Xavier Roth led the esteemed successors of the work’s first interpreters in this latest Mahler adventure. © harmonia mundi
Symphonic Music - Released December 2, 2013 | Musicales Actes Sud
Thanks to the enormous successes of the movement for historically informed performances, one often hears Hector Berlioz's Symphonie fantastique served up in authentic, early 19th century style, because more and more ensembles play the work on original instruments and follow the practices of the composer's era. This recording by François-Xavier Roth and the French chamber orchestra Les Siècles is an elegant presentation of the piece, one of the signal masterpieces of the Romantic era and a showcase for any ensemble, whether traditional or period. The colors of the vintage instruments are striking, and perhaps the most memorable timbre of this performance is the plangent tone of the cor anglais in the Scène aux champs. But the whole orchestra is vibrant with original sonorities, and Berlioz's innovative effects are just as effective in this rendition as they would be in a modern symphony orchestra. One might wish that this CD from Musicales Actes Sud had better audio for the occasion, because playing of such high caliber should have been reproduced on a hybrid SACD, most importantly because many competitors have releases that take full advantage of multichannel technology. But the sound is certainly excellent, and listeners will derive much pleasure from hearing this fine recording.
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