As I listened to Les Nuits de Paris Dance Music from Folies Bergère to Opéra, I was tempted to use in my review a line from Noel Coward’’s play Private Lives: “Strange how potent cheap music is.” But, as I pondered this poor choice of words, I concluded that there is absolutely nothing cheap in this music by the well-known opera composers Camille Saint-Saëns, Ambroise Thomas, Charles Gounod, Jules Massenet, and Léo Delibes, along with their lesser-known though anything but less-gifted colleagues Philippe Musard, Isaac Strauss, Émile Waldteufel, and Hervé, among several others.

This is largely neglected, lively, quintessentially French and fun, unabashedly romantic music, some dazzlingly fast, some dreamy, some playful, some crafted into overtures, some purely danceable: waltzes, galops, polkas, and quadrilles mostly composed during the grand old final days of the 19th century and danced both in the august stage of the Paris Opéra and in the classless cabarets, dicey dance halls, and subtle salons of Fin de Siècle Paris.

François-Xavier Roth leads the superb orchestra Les Siècles with gallic finesse and boundless energy, joyfully unearthing the riches of this repertoire mostly unknown to most of us, as Le Carillon, Seguidille Espagnole, L’amour s’eveille, La Farandole, Grande Vitesse, Le Chevalier Jean, andnearly a dozen more gems follow each other, intercepted now and then by a familiar ballet sequence from Gounod’s Faust or by the equally well-known ditty Skaters Waltz of Émile Waldteufel.

Merci infiniment!

Rafael de Acha

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: