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Les Nuits de Paris

Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth (Bru Zane)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Les Nuits de Paris
Dance Music by Danglas, Delibes, Dubois, Gounod, Guiraud, Hervé, Joncières, Massenet, Musard, Saint-Saëns, Isaac Strauss, Ambroise Thomas and Waldteufel
Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth
Bru Zane BZ 2005   69:23 mins


Time to dance the night away. The latest collection from Les Siècles and conductor François-Xavier Roth celebrates the way dance music permeated 19th-century French culture. There is ballet music, naturally, represented here not only by the ‘Valse lente’ from Delibes’s Coppélia, but also pieces from Massenet’s Le Carillon and La Farandole by Dubois. These are supplemented by music resulting from the requirement of French opera to include a divertissement, with ballet music from Gounod’s Faust and Saint-Saëns’s Le timbre d’argent. Then there is the irresistible Ouverture for Ambroise Thomas’s Raymond, eliciting a winsome insouciance from the strings of Les Siècles.

The numerous rarities in this cornucopia of fleet-footed fancies, such as Musard’s charming Ouistiti-Polka, revealing the decidedly porous boundaries between the opera stage and dance halls, society balls or public parks. Offenbach’s Orpheus in the Underworld is heard, but in a mash-up by Isaac Strauss, while his Hebe-Polka could easily be penned by one of his Viennese namesakes. Familiar fare like Waldteufel’s Les Patineurs is placed in context, including the same composer’s polka Bella Bocca and galop Grand vitesse. Waltzes abound, in guises ranging from punchy, as in Guiraud’s from Gretna-Green, to the charming L’Amour s’éveille by Jeanne Danglas, incorporating Joncière’s teasing Le Chevalier Jean ‘valse’ and even seasickness in Hervé’s Valse du mal de mer.

The percussion and wind are occasionally overbearing in the dance hall orchestrations, and so many bonbons can be a little indigestible. Nonetheless, Les Siècles combine elegance and joie-de-vivre to keep the feet tapping.


Christopher Dingle