Emmanuel Chabrier (1841-1894)



"The composer's final years were beset with illness and depression but this period saw the creation of several major works, including Chabrier's final opera, Briséïs - a work that he intended should be the last word in modernism. When Chabrier is invited to tea by the widow of his great musical hero, Richard Wagner, his manners and his music are not well recieved!

Chabrier must surely be one of the most likeable fellows to have graced this earth. It seems no-one had a bad word to say about him. His wide circle of friends included all the leading musicians, writers, poets and painters of the day. Chabrier owned a remarkable collection of impressionist paintings including several by Manet, who produced the best known portrait of the composer.

Emmanuel Chabrier's life slots into a fascinating point in French musical history. When he was born in 1841, Berlioz was already thirty-eight and famous, Saint-Saëns was six, while the rising stars of the future, Massenet and Fauré, were not yet born. Despite Wagner's dominance, and indeed Chabrier's own reverence for the German composer, Chabrier's music retains a staunchly Gallic individuality, with critics subsequently paying tribute to him as a ""direct forerunner of the modern school."" The reason for this may well relate, at least in part, to his studies. Chabrier was largely self-taught, and although he was better educated than most musical amateurs, he never followed the accepted route into the Paris Conservatoire or a similar institute. He trained first in law, only taking up full time composition in his thirties.

Habanera c. 1885

Orchestre de la Suisse Romande

Neeme Järvi, conductor

Ballade des gros dindons

Steven Varcoe, baritone

Graham Johnson, piano

Villanelle des petits canards

Les Cigales

Felicity Lott, soprano

Gwendoline, Overture to Act 1

Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra

Jean-Paul Penin, conductor

Briséïs: Excerpt from Act 1, Part IV

Simon Keenlyside , baritone (Le Catéchiste)

Michael George, bass (Stratoklès)

Joan Rodgers, soprano (Briséïs)

Kathryn Harries, mezzo soprano (Thanasto)

Chorus of Scottish Opera

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Jean Yves Ossonce, conductor

Air de ballet

Annie d'Arco, piano."

"Donald focuses on Chabrier's final years, beset with illness yet productive."