Jules Massenet: Songs with Orchestra

Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris

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Jules Massenet: Songs with Orchestra Review

by James Manheim

The Palazzetto Bru Zane label has done yeoman's work in rediscovering unknown French music from the late Classical through the early modern periods, but the label may have outdone itself with this album of orchestral songs by Jules Massenet. It's the sheer size of the repertoire that astonishes; Massenet alone wrote some 300 of these, and they were also composed by Saint-Saëns, Fauré, Chausson, and a host of other composers. The Massenet songs here are all world recorded premieres. Why were they forgotten? The annotations point to the fact that, unlike Berlioz's Les nuits d'éte, they were never published; they were not written in sets but were intended for the kind of 19th century concert on which large and small works would be performed side by side. Indeed, one thing that strikes the listener about the Massenet songs is their brevity; they are not in the least like little operatic scenes but are fully self-contained. They have a great deal of charm, whether in irresistible miniatures like Baiser-Impromptu ("Impromptu Kiss"), slightly longer conceptions like Hymne d'amour, or instrumental pieces that are again not like operatic interludes but are really little orchestral songs without words. Conductor Hervé Niquet, better known for work in early music, is absolutely in tune with these pieces, getting their delicacy with his small Orchestre de chambre de Paris. The pieces are of consistently high quality, and it is no wonder that he was able to attract high-profile singers like Véronique Gens and Cyrille Dubois, as well as a host of interesting up-and-comers, to the project. It is also no wonder that this album of completely unknown music hit the best-seller charts in the summer of 2022.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:43 Amazon
2 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 03:45 Amazon
3 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 03:50 Amazon
4 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 03:04 Amazon
5 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:49 Amazon
6 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:43 Amazon
Le roman d'Arlequin
7 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:57 Amazon
8 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 04:07 Amazon
9 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:30 Amazon
10 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 04:27 Amazon
11 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:30 Amazon
12 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:52 Amazon
13 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:11 Amazon
Les Érinnyes
14 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:46 Amazon
15 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:29 Amazon
Poème pastoral
16 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:40 Amazon
17 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:47 Amazon
18 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:44 Amazon
19 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:33 Amazon
20 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 03:06 Amazon
Thérèse
21 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 01:54 Amazon
22 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 03:04 Amazon
23 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:44 Amazon
Poème pastoral
24 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 03:30 Amazon
La Vie de Bohème
25 Hervé Niquet / Orchestre de Chambre de Paris 02:41 Amazon
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