Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection.
MALICORNE was founded in 1973 by French singer/guitarist Gabriel YACOUB and Marie YACOUB, after having recorded an album together (Gabriel Et Marie Yacoub – Pierre De Grenoble). With several other musicians, MALICORNE released approximately 10 albums between 1973 and 1986.
Following the extremely successful recording of Haydn complete London Symphonies released in 2010, Marc Minkowski, Naïve and the Wiener Konzerthaus set up a new project, even more ambitious although similar in form: to perform for the Viennese audience and record the complete symphonies of Schubert in the same week, in March this year. 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble. Major concerts will take place in Paris this Autumn to celebrate this event.
There are many very good recordings of this music, but few truly great ones, and even fewer that make the music sound new (and old–more on that anon). This certainly is one of them, the finest disc of Carmen and L'Arlésienne suites since Markevitch with the Lamoureux Orchestra. Marc Minkowski offers the standard L'Arlésienne suites, plus a selection of the original incidental music shorn of the tiny bits of fragmentary fluff that make hearing the complete score such a frustrating experience. This permits the most complete appreciation of Bizet's genius thus far available on disc in this particular work. The Carmen music includes the prelude and standard entr'actes, with a reprise of the prelude to round off the proceedings. It's all so intelligent and enjoyable for home listening.
Better still, using period-ish instruments, Minkowski achieves a truly "French" sound, perhaps for the first time on disc since the 1950s or '60s. The compact ensemble sonority, pert winds, bright brass, and slightly wiry strings restore to the music so much of its innate vividness. Listen to the high-kicking brass in the Carmen Prelude, or the rhythmic "ping" that Minkowski brings to the Carillon in L'Arlésienne. Then there's the wonderfully touching but never sticky Adagietto and a closing Farandole that brings a genuine physical thrill to the program's conclusion (and you get to hear the music's first version, with voices, from Bizet's theatrical score). Perfectly natural sonics present the whole program with tactile immediacy, and the deluxe booklet is magnificent. You're going to love this. [5/12/2008]–David Hurwitz