L’Heure Espagnole
Münchner Rundfunkorchester/Asher Fisch
Bavarian Radio Klassik  900317

“As an opera person, you always love to get to a corner that is not so touched, and especially if it’s humouristic. I love Falstaff, I love Gianni Schicchi and for the same reason I love L’Heure Espagnole.” Asher Fisch

Read our review here.

Read our interview with Asher Fisch here.

Fisch’s Spanish hour will have you hooked

Ravel’s exquisite miniature, L’Heure Espagnole, has often come a poor second in the catalogue to the catchier L’Enfant et les Sortilèges so it’s nice to see a label taking a punt on a new recording. Unlike its more in-your-face stablemate, L’Heure is a slower simmer but, like much of Ravel, it repays multiple listenings.

This superbly detailed reading from the Munich Radio Orchestra is helmed by West Australian Symphony Orchestra Principal Conductor Asher Fisch, who here proves as skilled a hand with the French Impressionists as he is with the German Romantics. The score shimmers and sashays, whether representing ticking clocks or the lazy heat of a sultry Spanish afternoon. Fisch proves especially adept at teasing out the little musical witticisms like Ravel’s priapic glissandi that seem to have a mind of their own.

The cast are all first rate, as nimble with the text as they are on the money with the music. Gaëlle Arquez is sexy and smart as the unfaithful wife. Mathias Vidal has that classic French tenor elegance as her cuckolded husband, with Julien Behr a knockout as the puffed up poet Gonzalve and Lionel Lhote suitably stolid as the fat banker who gets wedged in a grandfather clock. Alexandre Duhamel is the epitome of a vocal stud as the well-endowed muleteer. The sound, taken from a live performance, is tremendously convincing and it all ends with a fizzing romp through Chabrier’s España. Clive Paget

The Runners Up

La Storia di Orfeo, Jaroussky

La Storia di Orfeo
Music by Monteverdi et al
Philippe Jaroussky ct, Emöke Baráth s, I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis
Erato 0190295851903

L'Opera, Jonas Kaufmann

French Opera Arias
Jonas Kaufmann t, Bayeriches Staatsorchester/Bertrand de Billy
Sony 88985390762

Stravaganza d'Amore!

Stravaganza d’Amore!
The Birth of Opera at the Medici Court
Pygmalion/Raphäel Pichon
Harmonia Mundi  HMM90228687

Wagner, Die Walküre, Naxos

Die Walküre
Goerne, Lang, Skelton, Melton, Hong Kong Philharmonic/Jaap van Zweden
Naxos 866039497 (4CD)