Les Vêpres Siciliennes is one of Verdi’s misunderstood operas. It is usually presented to audiences today as I vespri Siciliani - that is, in a clumsy and pedestrian Italian translation and as such gives a false representation of Verdi’s original concept. This opera was composed for the Paris Opera to a libretto by Eugene Scribe, one of the greatest poets of the day and Charles Duveyrier. Verdi embraces the French idiom – the musical forms, the orchestration, the vocal writing – with the same grandeur and sense of occasion as Rossini and Meyerbeer before him. Certainly to give an opera in translation is no crime but to continually deprive the public of this particularly beautiful marriage of text and music is close to criminal. This is the third in the Verdi Originals series and this BBC recording of the opera finally restores the original French libretto.
A man saves the life of a prince, yet dies in exile and poverty, while his son rises to fame and fortune and returns to Scotland in triumph. Journalist John Morrison explores the story of Neil MacEachen, the Uist Jacobite who saved Bonnie Prince Charlie from capture and whose son rose to become one of Napoleon's generals and a Marshal of France.
For years we have looked on in envy at a French way of life that combined high living standards, generous welfare benefits and superb public transport. But now Robert Peston investigates how economic stagnation is threatening the treasured 'social model', and how a potential political earthquake could undermine the very fabric of the European Union itself. In the wake of the great economic crash of 2008, as other countries embarked on financial belt-tightening, the French shunned austerity and eventually voted in a left-wing president who instead promised tax rises and a continuation of the high public spending the country was accustomed to. Now even Francois Hollande has had to perform a U-turn and is promising reforms. This in turn has led to a surge in support for the right-wing politics of Marine Le Pen and the Front National, with their ferociously anti-European agenda.
The exclusive Chandos artist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet is a master of this repertoire. This is his second concerto recording for the label, after his survey of the complete piano concertos by Bartók (CHAN10610) which was released in September to high acclaim and voted ‘Orchestral Choice of the Month’ by the magazine BBC Music. Bavouzet’s complete recording of the piano music by Debussy also scooped awards from BBC Music and Gramophone, which wrote: ‘This could well be the finest and most challenging of all Debussy piano cycles.’ On this new release, Bavouzet is accompanied by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Yan Pascal Tortelier, a conductor steeped in the French tradition and utterly at home in this repertoire. The result is a totally idiomatic performance of these French masterpieces for piano and orchestra.