Chabrier: Orchestral Works

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LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Chabrier: Orchestral Works
WORKS: Orchestral Works: Suite pastorale; Le roi margé lui – extracts; España; Gwendoline – ouverture; Bourrée fantasque; Joyeuse marche; Lamento; Habanera
PERFORMER: Orchestre de la Suisse Romande/Neeme Järvi


This will lift the spirits. In fact, a sourpuss would need to be pretty determined to remain gloomy upon listening to this disc. Moreover, like Neeme Järvi’s excellent Saint-Saëns disc with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, this Chabrier collection underlines that there is much more savour from the composer than the few headline favourites. The joyful twinkle in Chabrier’s eye makes it easy to overlook his profound importance to French music, foreshadowing many developments of Debussy and Ravel as well as sparking the imagination of Poulenc, who could easily be mistaken as the author of the Suite pastorale. If España deftly captures the colourful pizzazz of Spain, the Habanera charms with its coy insouciance.

Anyone thinking there is no more to Chabrier than champagne fizz should try the steely gallop that opens the Overture to Gwendoline, or the cor anglais solo in the heartfelt Lamento. Nonetheless, it is true that there is a pervading sense of bonhomie, of time spent in good company, captured perfectly not only by the Joyeuse marche, but also the pieces from L’étoile and Le roi malgré lui. The brass of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande are full of verve, nicely crisp yet harrumphing when needed, while the woodwind are markedly less acidic than in years gone by. In Järvi’s hands, España seemingly dances on air in a whirl of colours. He is aided in this by the superb surround sound recording.


Christopher Dingle