Second volume of Auber opera overtures distinct improvement

Volume two of Daniel-François-Esprit Auber overtures builds on the strengths of the first. As before, maestro Dario Salvi and the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice present several world premiere recordings — including a violin concerto.

While I enjoyed the performances of the ensemble in volume one, I had some complaints about the quality of the recorded sound. The sound is much improved in volume two.

The ensemble has a clean, cohesive blend. It’s a pleasant sound for pleasant music. And these overtures and entr’acte selections are pleasantly tuneful and entertaining.

Not all of the works featured here are opera-comiques (as the French defined the genre). Léocadie, for example, involves a continually imperiled heroine. Even these selections are full of melody and good spirits.

For me, though, the standout track was the Violin Concerto in D major. The opening theme of this 1805 work seems to pre-echo Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony. Lyricism, rather than technique, seems to be Auber’s focus.

Violinist Markéta Cepická plays with a clear, pure tone. Auber knew how to write a melody, and Markéta’s phrasing makes it sing. Her playing in the upper register was particularly poignant and beautiful.

I don’t think I’ve heard any music by Auber that wasn’t related to opera. This concerto was a real treat — and I hope future volumes include some non-operatic works. Really looking forward to Volume 3.

Daniel-François-Esprit Auber: Overtures, Volume 2
Le Concert á la cour; Fiorella; Julie; Léocadie; Couvin; Violin Concerto
Markéta Cepická, violin; Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice; Dario Salvi, conductor
Naxos 8.574006

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