Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Pelléas et Mélisande suite op.80 (1898)
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Capriccio italien, orchestral fantasy, op.45 (1880) [16:09]
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891-1953)
Romeo and Juliet, Op. 64 (1935) Excerpts
Dresdner Philharmonie/Michael Sanderling
rec. live, 2012, Kulturpalast, Dresden, Germany.

These are the first recordings by the Dresdner Philharmonie with its new principal conductor Michael Sanderling. It’s live from the opening concert of their 2011/12 season dedicated to the theme of Love. A few weeks ago I had the good fortune to attend a concert by the touring Dresdner Philharmonie under Sanderling with Sarah Chang as soloist at Manchester’s Bridgwater Hall. It was a vividly memorable concert with orchestra, soloist and conductor in total rapport.
The disc opens with Fauré in a suite from his incidental music written in 1898 for a London production of Maurice Maeterlinck’s play. Owing to a short deadline Fauré had assistance from composer Charles Koechlin in making the orchestrations. The play had inspired a number of composers and it seems that Debussy not Fauré was the initial choice of English actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell to write the incidental music for her English production of the play. In the Prélude a sumptuous and atmospheric orchestral sound is immediately evident with Sanderling controlling the impressive climaxes. Many people will recognise the Sicilienne but far fewer will be able to identify it. Marked Allegro molto moderato this is tender, lightly textured music played here with much affection.
Composed in 1880 Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien, op.45 is an orchestral fantasy based on Italian street songs that he heard in Rome whilst staying at the Hôtel Constanzi. Tchaikovsky expressed his wish to include music in the style of Glinka’s Spanish fantasias; a desire that he achieved. The score opens with a striking bugle call inspired by the reveille from the nearby cavalry barracks. There’s appealingly warm and vibrant playing throughout but I was especially struck by the swirling tarantella that brings the work to a dazzling conclusion.
Marking his maturity Prokofiev wrote his ballet Romeo and Juliet based on William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet in 1935. It was intended for his friend the theatre director Sergei Radlov at Moscow’s Bolshoi. Sanderling chose six sections from the: two from the full concert score, op. 64; one from Suite No. 1 and three pieces from Suite No. 2. Prokofiev was certainly operating at an elevated level with the thrilling writing continuing to delight generations of music-lovers. The opening of Montagues and Capulets makes a tremendous impact with the Dresden players generating a stunning crescendo and an especially brutal climax. The brisk and breezy Dance of the Five Couples contains some glorious string and woodwind playing. Romeo and Juliet Before Parting overflows with beautiful and memorable melodies.
Recorded live in 2012 at the Dresden Kulturpalast the players have the benefit of splendid recorded sound with an especially impressive balance. There is no extraneous noise from the audience to cause distraction and the applause at the end of each work has been left in. Sanderling gives powerfully lyrical interpretations and his tempo selection is judicious. The sheer beauty of the sound is stunning, combining polish, sensitivity and rapt expression. With such a satisfying mix this release will have a wide appeal.
Michael Cookson 


Track details
Pelléas et Mélisande
Prélude [5:31]
Mélisande at her spinning wheel [2:17]
Sicilienne [3:36]
The death of Mélisande [4:42]

Romeo and Juliet
Montagues and Capulets (or The Dance of the Knights), Op. 64b/1 [5:12]
Juliet the Young Girl, Op. 64b/2 [3:54]
Dance for the Five Couples, Op. 64/24 [2:03]
Romeo and Juliet before Parting, Op. 64b/5 [8:14]
Juliet’s Funeral, Op. 64/51 [6:02]
Death of Tybalt, Op. 64a/7 [5:11]

This release will have a wide appeal.

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