Auber: Overtures, Vol. 3

December 24, 2020

Daniel Francois Esprit Auber (1782-1871) was a French opera writer who composed fifty-one of them, many comic, in the 19th century. Naxos has taken the task to record overtures to all of the operas, not necessarily in order. In my review, I will include the six opera numbers. It was listed in the first two volumes. Included is the overture to the 1862 Grand Exhibition.

While quite unknown today except by the active opera listener, it is hoped that these recordings will spark interest in Auber.

  • Grande Ouverture pours l’inauguration de l’Exposition a Londres was written for the 1862 World’s Fair in England and works by Bennett and Meyerbeer premiering on May 1, 1862. It opens with a full horn ensemble, switches to a smaller horn group, which offers a different theme. The violins offer a different theme with pizzicato string playing, almost cartoon-like, before the full orchestra offers another theme majestic and proud. It is played, developed, and repeated before it ends in a rousing fashion. This is an excellent example of the fine work Auber has to offer.
  • La Barcarolle, ou L’Amour et la Musique is #38 and was written in 1845. This is a world premiere recording also including Overture and Entr’acte to Act 11. The theme is from Kunslerleben. The overture offers two themes from act 111 and acts 1. The entrecote uses the theme from act 1. While the opera was popular in Germany, it only lasted for 27 performances in France.
  • Les Chaperons Blancs is #27 from 1836 and had twelve performances. The Overture is bright and cheery with several tempo changes, including an andante and waltz. The theme is well developed. Entr’acte to Act 11 is a very short staccato with threatening tremolos of things to come. Entr’acte to Act 111 is an enchanting theme, catchy, one of the best he ever wrote, that Auber reused in Marco Spada (1857).
  • Lestocq, ou L’Intrigue et l’Amour is #24 and written in 1834. The overture begins with a fanfare followed by a pretty theme on the oboe, fully developed with the full orchestra. The second part of the overture is a brisk military galop, a statement of a soldier’s life. Entre’acte to Act 11 is a brief introduction to the aria for Catherine.
  • La Muette de Portici is #16 and written in 1828. It was performed 505 times. This is regarded as Auber’s masterpiece, the originality of the music, the style. It begins with a bombarding beginning, crashing. It continues back and forth between the assault and the woodwinds backed by busy strings developing the work. The main theme of the Overture is offered a stirring march. A coda brings the finale to a rousing conclusion.
  • Reve d’amour is #51 and was performed, but twenty-seven times, perhaps due to the Franco-Prussian War (1870). The overture is filled with several ideas, including an andante, a waltz, and a very lovely pastoral. Entr’acte to Act 111 offers us a perky staccato theme in the winds, which continues for several minutes, one of Auber’s longer entr’acte. Is #22 and was performed 100 times beginning in 1832.
  • Le Serment, ou Less Faux monnayeurs, is #22 from 1832 and was performed 100 times. Overture is divided into three sections pastoral, allegro, and military. It offers a wonderful coda. It offers an unusual effect of tapping the bows on the wood for the effect of the counterfeiters.

I applaud Naxos for taking on this fine project of bringing Auber material to many people. He was so popular in the 19th century and should be a lot more well known. I found the recording to be well done and performed, and I enjoyed listening to him very much. It was a light classical style with a pondering serious side to it.

The release date is 01-29-21

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