Sainte-Hélène: La légende napoléonienne

Les Lunaisiens, Sabine Devieihle, Arnaud Marzorati, Les cuivres romantiques
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This is a portrait of Napoleon and the Napoleonic era in France, as represented in songs for the salon and the street, fanfares and marches, including one by Cherubini. Musical styles are thus varied and sometimes the successive items are slightly uneasy neighbours, though there is a ‘plot-line’ holding it all together. Sonorities, too, are varied and range from the brass choirs (which use historic instruments as well as modern reconstructions) to voice-and-piano and include one sound which has never occurred in even my wildest early music dreams – the combination of solo baritone voice and serpent!

This isn’t really a CD you can have playing as background. To get the most from it you need to listen with concentration and have the texts/translations in front of you. (It will also help if you know the relevant political history.) Doing this, I found that the concept and the performances drew me into their world and I felt culturally enriched and not merely a diligent reviewer.

The booklet (in French and Englich) just about does its job and does include the sung texts and a translation into English.

David Hansell

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