The pairing of Francis Poulenc and Reynaldo Hahn on this album may seem contrived merely because of biographical parallels between the two men, for their musical approaches and styles are quite different, if not at odds. Poulenc's neo-Classical, self-conscious parodies in the Sinfonietta and the dry, sarcastic wit of the Aubade are a world away from Hahn's pretty, even precious, Romanticism, which is unabashedly on display in La bal de Béatrice d'Este. However, the discerning listener may find in Poulenc streaks of Hahn's pensiveness and languor, which his comic antics never completely conceal; there is in Hahn a buoyant, diatonic tunefulness that is readily found in Poulenc. (Interestingly, some of Poulenc's adaptations of Renaissance music bear a remarkable similarity to Hahn's antique pastiches in this ballet.) Furthermore, their fondness for unusual chamber combinations is striking, and the transition from the Aubade to La bal de Béatrice d'Este is not at all jarring because they both share the charm and ambience of the salon orchestra.
Don Henley doesn't move fast because he can afford not to hurry. He can spend the better part of a decade waiting out a record contract, labor on a 90-minute Eagles reunion for maybe half a decade, then take another eight years before returning with Cass County, his first solo album in 15 years and only fifth overall. That's the mark of a man who takes his time, but all that chronology pales compared to the true journey Cass County represents: a return to Henley's country roots, whether they lie in the blissed-out, mellow sunshine of Southern California or the Texas home that provides this record with its name…
Elgar’s Violin Concerto has a certain mystique about it independent of the knee-jerk obeisance it has received in the British press. It probably is the longest and most difficult of all Romantic violin concertos, requiring not just great technical facility but great concentration from the soloist and a real partnership of equals with the orchestra. And like all of Elgar’s large orchestral works, it is extremely episodic in construction and liable to fall apart if not handled with a compelling sense of the long line. In reviewing the score while listening to this excellent performance, I was struck by just how fussy Elgar’s indications often are: the constant accelerandos and ritards, and the minute (and impractical) dynamic indications that ask more questions than they sometimes answer. No version, least of all the composer’s own, even attempts to realize them all: it would be impossible without italicizing and sectionalizing the work to death.
Filmed at the Opéra Comique, February 2013. Music direction and artistic collaboration: Laurence Equilbey. Stage direction: Michel Fau. Intended to set the spice of Parisian operetta against American musical comedy, 'Ciboulette' was Reynaldo Hahn’s first light score. It features the tribulations of the pretty market gardener Ciboulette, determined to earn herself a bright future without sacrificing her feelings. Her pursuit of happiness leads her to come across a whole collection of typical characters from the Paris of the Belle Epoque, from the humblest to the most distinguished. 2 discs DVD including a 32-page booklet. Extra features: 31 mins - interviews with Laurence Equilbey, Michel Fau, Agnès Terrier, Jérôme Deschamps and Julie Fuchs.