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18.6.14

Félicien David (1810-1876)

available at Amazon
F. David, Le Souvenir, Quatuor Mosaïques
(Laborie, 2012)

available at Amazon
F. David, String Quartets 1,2,4, Quatuor Cambini-Paris
(Naive, 2012)
We have been on a bit of a Félicien David kick this year, since listening to the recording of his opera Lalla Roukh from Opera Lafayette. At the same time there have been several revivals of his music in France, making him "la révélation du moment," according to an article by Raphaël de Gubernatis (Aux Bouffes du Nord, musique romantique et révélations, June 13) in Le Nouvel Observateur. A celebrated composer -- "praised by Hector Berlioz and Théophile Gautier, honored in the time of Louis Philippe and Napoleon III, decorated, member of the Institut de France" -- David's music was almost immediately forgotten, a situation that the Centre de Musique romantique française, in Venice, is hoping to reverse. It is hosting a mini festival this week (June 14 to 19), including performances by the Trio Wanderer, the Quatuor Mosaïques, the Orchestre de violoncelles, and soloists from Le Cercle de l’Harmonie, at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord.

The focus of the article is the connection of the composer, an orphan from the Vaucluse who was educated at the boys choir school of the Cathedral of Saint-Sauveur in Aix-en-Provence, to the Saint-Simonien movement, championed as he was by Prosper Enfantin, known as "le Père Enfantin," the group's charismatic leader. Following a trip to Egypt with Enfantin, David composed the "ode-symphonie" Le Désert (embedded below).

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