- Orchestra: Academy of St.Martin in the Fields
- Conductor: Sir Neville Marriner
- Composer: Charles Gounod
- Audio CD (July 20, 1999)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Philips
- ASIN: B00000JLFE
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,638 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
Gounod: Symphonies 1 & 2, Faust Ballet Music
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Top Customer Reviews
With the Faust Ballet Music we have the product of a perhaps more skilled and experienced musician, but he's pandering here to the French taste for spectacle, and even though the music has its moments, it's somewhat trashy compared with the urbane utterance of the symphonies, for my money. Still, it's good, clean fun and underlines the essentially balletic nature of Gounod's orchestral music-making--true right up to the marvelous Petite Symphonie of the composer's last years.
In the Ballet Music, that protean ASMF Orchestra sounds properly beefier and heftier, producing gorgeous sounds that most pit orchestras (the Met Orchestra excluded) could never produce. Add to this a very refined recording from Philips--finer, I think, than the one on ASV--and you have a better bargain with this excellent Marriner disc.
Gounod's symphonies suffered similar neglect. In fact, Gounod's two symphonies are seldom performed or recorded even now, while Bizet's symphony has enjoyed numerous performances and recordings. It's really hard to understand why Gounod's symphonies continue to be neglected. As these fine recordings demonstrate, the music is very charming and filled with emotion, while obviously influenced by Haydn and Beethoven. It is known that Paris tended to be musically conservative and certainly Gounod recognized that; nevertheless, he failed to attract much attention with these works.
I find the first symphony, written in D major, the more enjoyable of the two. It often reminds me of Bizet's symphony in C major, but it definitely has originality and deserves to be heard more often.
Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields give very competent, enjoyable performances of the symphonies. They really excel in the showy ballet music Gounod composed for his 1859 masterpiece, the opera "Faust." French opera HAD to include ballet in those days because the patrons, especially the wealthy, aristocratic members of the Jockey Club, expected it. There was, of course, some scandal connected with "Faust" because of its religious themes.Read more ›
The first movement of the First Symphony opens lively, continuing to show us Gounod's talent in construction every moment of its duration. The second movement is not cast in the usual slow tempo. Instead Gounod gives us an Allegro Moderato, wonderfully pointed, the theme of Schubertian grace, the fugue of Tchaikovskian beauty. The third movement is a scherzo that sounds almost like a minuet. After a slow introduction the finale carries the listener effortlessly to the end.
The Second Symphony is a bit more serious, but still enthralling in every way. A slow introduction prefaces the main theme of the graceful first movement as in the finale of the First Symphony. After a nine minute slow movement comes a minor scherzo possessing echos of many things, but in general, remains quite Gounod. In the finale we again see traces of Haydn, only adding to the character of this original work.
As a fabulous bonus we also receive the Faust Ballet Music, sounding fresh indeed from Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. It is quite convincing, even on its own. Seven movements of wonderful melodies, particularly the Danse antique. These miniatures will certainly delight more than just ballet fans. (EDIT: Marriner treats these works more as a part of a polite orchestral suite than as the wild dances from Faust's revelries. I don't mind this interpretation, though.)
The performance and recording match the verve in all of this music quite well. Marriner again proves his effective communication in Romantic music. There are no idiosyncrasies, and this disc is exceptionally well filled (over 74 minutes). Highly recommended indeed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Certain composers seem to be known for only a handful of works (sometimes only one or two), even though their actual output may be far larger; and it seems that way with Charles... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Erik North
Beautiful. I wish you had a CD of Faust's highlights, including the ballet music, but without symphonies.Published 19 months ago by Alicia Rivera
Composed in 1854 and sounding as if they were composed in 1790 or so? What's going on? Why did France develop a symphonic tradition so late? Don't get me wrong . . . Read morePublished on March 11, 2013 by Stanley Crowe
I really enjoyed this, especially considering that it's fairly hard to find recordings of Gounod's symphonies, which are severely under appreciated. Read morePublished on November 19, 2011 by Mantis
The two symphonies by Charles Gounod are absolutely delightful works; and deceptively appealing. At a glance (or the aural equivalent of one) they sound like simple, sweet,... Read morePublished on April 28, 2000 by Eric J. Matluck