Fête Galante, a 1999 release featuring soprano Karina Gauvin and pianist Marc-André Hamelin, won numerous awards, and the outstanding performances on this 2011 reissue confirm how well-deserved those honors were. Gauvin has an exceptional voice – clarion-bright, warm, confident, and agile, with a variegated palette of colors – and her effortlessly incisive interpretive skills give depth and life to everything she sings. The distinctiveness and character she brings to these songs show a terrific grasp of the genre of the mélodie, from the late 19th century songs by Fauré and the young Debussy to the mid-20th works by Poulenc, Honegger, and Émile Vuillermoz. The CD demonstrates her range with the zany comedy of Poulenc's "Paganini" followed immediately by the intensely poignant multi-layered sadness of the composer's profound "C." Throughout, Gauvin's tone is ravishingly pure and she soars gloriously in the more lyrical songs.
Ernest Chausson’s death in 1899 in a bicycle accident robbed French music of a major talent. Almost his entire orchestral output fits on this extremely fine CD. Yan Pascal Tortelier’s performance of the richly romantic Symphony is the best since Munch’s Boston Symphony recording. Like Munch, Tortelier knows how to keep the music moving along–he’s only an insignificant two minutes slower than Munch for the whole work–without overindulging the more luscious moments, which in Chausson’s opulent setting really do take care of themselves. Even better, rather than some overplayed encore piece by another composer, the symphony is coupled with two very attractive, rarely heard tone poems and two charming orchestral excerpts from the composer’s incidental music to Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The orchestra plays with conviction, Chandos’ sonics are gorgeous, and if you don’t buy this disc, you’re missing out on some marvelous stuff.
Jacques Tati's award-winning feature debut - a dazzling blend of satire and slapstick - was early evidence of his unique talent. Acclaimed by international critics as an innovative comic masterpiece, Jour de Fete is an hilarious expose of the modern obsession with speed and efficiency, set amidst the rural surroundings of a tiny French village. Tati plays an appealingly self-deluded buffoon, Francois - a postman who, impressed by the bristling efficiency of the U.S. postal system, makes a wholly misguided attempt to introduce modern methods in the depths of rural France. Initially released in black and white, but also shot in Thomsoncolor, an untested colour process, the film has been restored and is finally available in its original delicate colour. Jour de Fete at first aroused little interest among French distributors. Not until after its London premiere in March 1949, when it got good reviews and went on general release, did the French industry sit up and take notice. It won a prize for 'best scenario' at the Venice Film Festival, and in 1950 it was awarded the 'Grand Prix du Cinema Francais'.