Daniel-François-Esprit Auber - that is his full name - died in his 89th year on 12/13 May 1871 during the siege of Paris. When still a child he learned to play the piano and oboe, and also became a skilful singer. Discarding his father's business as an art dealer, the young Auber went to England in the early 1800s as a banker and there he learned the language and appears to have had some success as a performer and as a composer of romances and quartets. After the collapse of the Peace of Amiens in 1803 he returned to France and was admitted as a composer to the Société Académique des Enfants d'Apollon, aged twenty-four. Indeed, it was his Violin Concerto, that can be heard on this recording, and which was performed in 1805, that led to this nomination.
Later he furthered his studies with Luigi Cherubini and after the demise of his teacher, Auber later became Director of the Paris Conservatoire. Having met his lifelong collaborator, the brilliant dramatist Eugene Scribe, in 1819, the composer's main occupation became that of writing operas, of which he composed a substantial number. As the creator of Le maçon (1825), La muette de Portici (1828), La Fiancée (1829), Le domino noir (1837), La part du diable (1843) and Haydée (1847), Auber not only became famous but also amassed a considerable fortune. Sadly, after his death his reputation declined, and today only a handful of his beautifully crafted and melodic overtures are performed.
In this second Naxos volume dedicated to Auber's overtures, one can continue to explore some little-known examples of the composer's elegant and refined operatic music. Julie, ou l'erreur d'un moment (1805) was his first stage-work, its fantasia-like beauty foreshadowing the later masterpieces.
Listen — Auber: Julie Overture
(track 7, 0:00-0:57) © 2020 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd :
Striking melodies and haunting episodes abound in these overtures and entr'actes from La débutante (1824), Fiorella (1826), Lestocq (1834), Jean de Couvain (1812) and La fiancée (1829). The Overture to Léocadie (1824) in particular is permeated with a restrained yet fragrant Iberian colour.
Listen — Auber: Léocadie Overture
(track 10, 0:00-0:52) © 2020 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd :
The Violin Concerto is lightly scored and gentle, with a tarantella-like finale full of folk vitality.
Listen — Auber: Presto (Violin Concerto in D)
(track 4, 4:21-5:20) © 2020 Naxos Rights (Europe) Ltd :
Dario Salvi and the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice give highly enjoyable performances of these sparkling works, and although almost all of them are world premiere recordings, the crispness, attack and minute attention to detail give the impression that they have been around for quite a while. Markéta Čepická's interpretation of the very rare violin concerto is, to say the least, delightfully graceful and charming. An excellent compilation (volume 2) of some really bouncy music in good sound and annotations. Just go for it.
Copyright © 4 October 2020
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