Escales: French Orchestral Works | Chandos CHSA5252

Escales: French Orchestral Works

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Label: Chandos

Cat No: CHSA5252

Barcode: 0095115525227

Format: Hybrid SACD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Orchestral

Release Date: 31st January 2020

Gramophone Editor's Choice



John Wilson and Sinfonia of London release their second album, following widespread and universal critical acclaim for their first recording, of Korngold’s Symphony in F sharp. This new recording explores the unique sound world of French orchestral music of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The programme juxtaposes well-known favourites, such as Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune, Massenet’s ‘Méditation’ from Thaïs, with pieces far more rarely heard, for example Duruflé’s Trois Danses and Saint-Saëns’s Le Rouet d’Omphale. Many of these works evoke the ‘exoticism’ of Spain or North Africa (as was the fashion in French music of this era), and all share the intricate, detailed orchestration that defines the ‘Impressionist’ style. John Wilson and Sinfonia of London capture the mood and spirit of these pieces with consummate skill and outstanding musicianship.

Originally formed in 1955, Sinfonia of London was re-established in 2018 by the British conductor John Wilson to devote itself, at least initially, to recording projects, of which this is the second album.


The programme is beautifully put together, so that we not only get a coherent overview of the period but seem to hear each piece refracted through its companions. Taking its title from Ibert’s impressions of his lengthy honeymoon trip to Italy, Tunisia and Spain, ‘Escales’ means ‘ports of call’, and the emphasis falls squarely on the influence of the exotic on the fin de siècle French imagination. ... Wilson... has the ability to make familiar music sound wonderfully fresh and new-minted, all the while carefully judging and calibrating the sound world of each piece. ... It’s a wonderful disc.  Tim Ashley (Recording of the Month)
Gramophone February 2020

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