Emmanuel Pahud / Yannick Nézet-Séguin / Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra

Fantasy: A Night at the opera

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For listeners who love the music of opera but would just as soon skip the singing, flutist Emmanuel Pahud's Fantasy: A Night at the Opera is just the thing. Its selections include excerpts taken without alteration from operas (the Entr'acte before Act III of Carmen, the Menuet and "Dance of the Blessed Spirits" from Orphée et Eurydice), arrangements of arias (Lensky's Aria from Eugene Onegin), and fantasies on themes from operas, especially popular in the 19th century, many of which were written with piano accompaniment, but are arranged here for orchestra. It is all immensely attractive music, always graceful and sometimes breathtakingly virtuosic. Pahud, one the brightest flutists to emerge in the late 20th century, has had a spectacularly diverse career, ranging from the standard orchestral and chamber repertoire to jazz and contemporary works (he gave the premiere of Elliot Carter's Flute Concerto). Except for the treacherously demanding Fantaisie brillante sur Carmen by François Borne, these are not works that reveal the extent of Pahud's formidable technique, but he plays them all with his characteristic long-breathed lyricism and sensitive musicality in shaping each phrase. Yannick Nézet-Séguin leads the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in a polished and thoughtful accompaniment. He is impressively authoritative in his shaping of the Carmen Fantasy; the vehemence of the Fate motive is almost shocking, but its rawness makes complete sense. EMI's sound is clean and warm, with excellent balance.

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