Pierre Dervaux Conducts = HEROLD: Zampa! Overture; BOIELDIEU: Overture to Le Calif de Bagdad; SUPPE: Light Cavalry Overture; GLINKA: A Life for the Tsar Overture; Ruslan and Ludmilla Overture; SAINT-SAENS: Danse Macabre, Op. 40; BRAHMS: Academic Festival Overture, Op. 80; WEBER: Overture to Euranthe; WAGNER: Overture to The Flying Dutchman; Prelude and Love-Death from Tristan und Isolde; Ride of the Valkyries; ROSSINI: Overture to The Barber of Seville; NICOLAI: Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor; WEBER (orch. Berlioz): Invitation to the Dance, Op. 65; DUKAS: L’Apprenti sorcier; J. STRAUSS: Overture to Die Fledermaus – L’Orch. de l’Association des Concerts Colonne/ Netherlands Philharmonic Orch./ Orch. des Concert de Paris/ Pierre Dervaux – Guild GHCD 2416/17 (2 CDs) TT: 2:20:45 [Distr. by Albany] ****:
Guild restores a series of popular overtures and orchestral pieces inscribed for various labels, 1957-1961, by French maestro Pierre Dervaux (1917-1992). The musicianship ranges from dependable to excitingly first rate, as in Glinka’ infrequent Overture to A Life for the Tsar which Dervaux recorded in Amsterdam for the Musical Masterpieces Society. The more standard repertory selections we know from superior performances by Karajan, Stokowski, Markevitch, Beecham, and Bernstein. Dervaux elicits some fine and deft colors from his Danse Macabre with the Concerts Colonne, but I shant dismiss my Mitropoulos reading. The Suppe Light Cavalry Overture projects fiery spirit, but it cannot compare to what Karajan achieves for DGG in Berlin. The opening work, Herold’s Overture to Zampa! has had readings by Toscanini and Malko to which I would still gravitate first. None can compete with Yevgeny Mravinsky’s breathtaking virtuosity in Leningrad in Glinka’s Overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla, but Dervaux’ Netherlands ensemble makes it sing in the Italian manner.
The French repertoire, by nature, belonged to Dervaux, whom my old teacher Jean Casadeus often praised for the work in Ravel they inscribed for French HMV. The relatively neglected Overture to The Calif of Bagdad by Adrien Boieldieu exerts that “pleasing and tasteful Parisian elegance” which Berlioz admired. A dramatic surprise comes in the form of Weber’s Euryanthe Overture from the Orchestra of the Paris National Opera from 1961, which enjoys a streamlined beauty. Again, a surprise in the way of German repertory, the Brahms Academic Festival Overture (1961), conveys a lithe, brisk power and directness of execution we might have attributed to George Szell. Dervaux openly cherishes his Wagner: witness the three selections, of which the Tristan diptych (27 April 1957) bears up well to those realizations we know from Munch and Pretre. The French National Opera cello line warrants the price of admission – I found it as compelling as what Knappertsbusch elicits in Vienna.
After a thoroughly rousing Flying Dutchman from Paris, 1959 Dervaux proceeds to an absolutely mesmerizing Overture to The Barber of Seville with the Colonne Orchestra, 1959, with enough of “Monsieur Crescendo” to last a boatload of Arturo Toscanini. While Dervaux does not quite achieve the Mendelssohnian lightness and diaphanous verve of Beecham in Nicolai’s Overture to The Merry Wives of Windsor, it has facility and brio to spare, and the trumpet work is first rate. The Weber Invitation to the Dance in the Berlioz arrangement receives – from an all but forgotten Musical Masterpieces label – as luxurious reading as anything from Reiner or Karajan. The strings, tympani, and wind definition achieves a clarity that reminds us what a fine trainer of future conductors Dervaux had been. The Dukas Scherzo – a la Mickey Mouse – comes as second nature to Dervaux and the Concerts Colonne (on HMV, 1961). The dramatic incarnation of the Goethe ballad canters, pulsates, swirls, and explodes in fluid colors, certainly competitive with my eternal references from Mitropoulos, Stokowski, Munch, and Markevitch. Dervaux concludes with a 1959 rendition of the Johann Strauss, II Fledermaus Overture, a broad, leisurely account more in the Otto Ackermann tradition than that of Karajan. We must recall what sway Dervaux held over the French light opera and grand opera tradition, and found myself wishing for his repertory in Offenbach and Poulenc.