François-Xavier Roth and his period ensemble Les Siècles are widely admired for their brilliant live re-creations of historic masterpieces on original instruments that often produce startling results. Their performances of the Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz, the Dante Symphony by Liszt, The Symphony No. 3, "Organ," by Saint-Saëns, La Mer by Debussy, and The Firebird by Stravinsky have given listeners new ears to hear the music as it most likely sounded in its time. For this 2014 release, they turn their attention to Paul Dukas, best known today for his entertaining 1897 tone poem The Sorcerer's Apprentice, which Walt Disney used to great acclaim in his 1940 film Fantasia. But Dukas was once highly praised for his cantata Vélléda, and noted for the overture to the Corneille tragedy Polyeucte, two works that are quite obscure now. For most listeners, hearing The Sorcerer's Apprentice played on late 19th century instruments will be a treat because the orchestral colors are extraordinarily varied and fresh, and the musicians' enjoyment is plainly evident in their vigorous performance. However, lacking conventional recordings of Vélléda or Polyeucte for the sake of comparison, most listeners will find those pieces less scintillating, and they are of greater interest to specialists in French dramatic music of the 19th century.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Velléda, cantate pour soprano, ténor, basse et orchestre sur un texte de Fernand Beissier|