Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra

Milhaud: L'Orestie D'eschyle

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AllMusic Review by James Manheim

Darius Milhaud's musical encounter with Aeschylus' classic Oresteia trilogy consists not of a single work, but of three pieces of different natures written early in the composer's career. They are not unrelated, however. Milhaud worked with the same collaborator, poet Paul Claudel, and his text-centered setting persists through all three works. The first play, Agamemnon, is represented only by a single large scene, set for soprano, chorus, and orchestra. Les Choéphores (The Libation Bearers) includes a larger chunk of the second play, with an unusual orchestra including 15 percussionists and an odd sort of rhythmic speech. The final play, Les Euménides (The Furies), is a full-scale opera in itself and occupies two thirds of the three-CD set here. Completed in 1923, it has more of the style for which Milhaud is known, with Brazilian influences, but it still doesn't really sound like Milhaud. The earlier pieces are more traditional in nature, but the music also has an experimental side. Its orchestra is massive, with four saxophones and four saxhorns. Recordings like this, with a varied set of forces involving hundreds of musicians and singers, are increasingly difficult to make, and such projects increasingly find a home at large American music schools where multiple programs can be brought to bear. This concert performance of the whole was made in spring 2013 at the University of Michigan, benefiting from the superior acoustics of the school's Hill Auditorium. The young soloists shine, but the real standout is the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, a special strength at the school. Kudos go to conductor Kenneth Kiesler for holding together an inherently unwieldy project and maintaining the imposing tone Milhaud seems to have had in mind. Recommended for Milhaud buffs.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
L'Orestie d'Eschyle
1 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:37 Amazon
2 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 04:34 Amazon
3 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:28 Amazon
4 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 00:58 Amazon
5 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:13 Amazon
6 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 04:14 Amazon
7 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:10 Amazon
8 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 03:11 Amazon
9 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:06 Amazon
10 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:00 Amazon
11 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:39 Amazon
12 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:26 Amazon
13 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:19 Amazon
14 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:19 Amazon
15 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 05:42 Amazon
16 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 04:02 Amazon
17 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:02 Amazon
18 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:12 Amazon
19 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:46 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 3

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
L'Orestie d'Eschyle
1 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 06:37 Amazon
2 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:26 Amazon
3 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:31 Amazon
4 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:44 Amazon
5 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 04:43 Amazon
6 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 00:44 Amazon
7 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 00:26 Amazon
8 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:57 Amazon
9 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 04:33 Amazon
10 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 00:27 Amazon
11 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:40 Amazon
12 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:55 Amazon
13 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:25 Amazon
14 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:42 Amazon
15 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:26 Amazon
16 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 00:41 Amazon
17 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:33 Amazon
18 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 01:28 Amazon
19 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 08:00 Amazon
20 Kenneth Kiesler / University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra 02:09 Amazon
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