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Félicien David (1810-'76): Le Désert / Accentus Choir; Paris CO; Equilbey

Album Summary

>David, Félicien César : Le Désert, ode-symphony for speaker, tenor, chorus & orchestra
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Conducted by Laurence Equilbey and featuring the renowned Accentus choir and Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, this new recording of one of the French masterpieces of the mid-19th c. is to a real discovery. Félicien David spent 4 years in Egypt and Algeria before returning to Paris, where he composed this romantic "ode symphonie" (1844) which joined the orientalist trend that was ongoing in several of the arts of the time. The immediate, phenomenal success of this work ultimately had a detrimental on his future career. This 2CD Naive set features performances both for, and without, voice.

Sunday Times, 29th March 2015
The four movements evoke, with charming local colour, the Egyptian landscape and a caravan journeying across it. This fine performance occupies two discs, one with narrator, one without.

The Guardian, 26th February 2015
The work, which draws on David's own travels through north Africa and the Middle East in the 1830s, is not a narrative so much as a series of three descriptive musical tableaux...Equilbey and her choir, Accentus, perform the score twice here...there is more than enough striking music to make it worthwhile.

BBC Music Magazine, June 2015
The 'Call of the Muezzin' is [a] high point in this excellent performance, Zachary Wilder soaring up to top Bs which in 1844 no doubt set the ladies in the audience all of a-flutter. Good fun all round.

Choir & Organ, May/June 2015
On the evidence of this recording, it is a work not merely of charm but rather a forgotten French masterpiece of the 19th century orientalist strand. Equilbey draws expressive playing from her excellent Parisian forces, and the soloists are idiomatic.

American Record Guide, July/August 2015
The performance is mostly enchanting. Conductor Laurence Equilbey chooses appropriate tempos and encourages the chorus and orchestra to phrase more sensitively than their counterparts did in the 1989 Capriccio recording. I enjoy the subtle shifts of tempo, some unwritten crescendos and decrescendos, and a few slight adjustments of rhythm to create a more overtly "Middle Eastern" effect. The superb male chorus is from Accentus, Equilbey's choral ensemble. The wind solos are exquisitely turned.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: La Cité de la Musique, Paris, France (05/2014).


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Works Details

>David, Félicien César : Le Désert, ode-symphony for speaker, tenor, chorus & orchestra
  • Conductor: Laurence Equilbey
  • Ensemble: Orchestre de Chambre de Paris
  • Running Time: 8 min. 30 sec.
  • Period Time: Romantic
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1844