L'Arlésienne, Les Indes

Christian Zacharias, conductor

Kammerorchester Basel


Jean-Philippe Rameau: Les Indes Galantes, Suites

Georges Bizet: L’Arlésienne


Recorded on 24th July 2014 at Saanen Church.

Christian Zacharias: The exotic side of French music

Christian Zacharias conducts a program that is consisted of French music. Jean-Philippe Rameau is often thought to be the greatest French musician before the 19thcentury. At the piano, as well as the stage, he produces diversity, surprises and contrasts. Even though he sometimes is called the archetype of French classical music. Les Indes galantes, performed for the first time on August 28th 1735, is the first of his ballet operas. It is the most typical of a genre that was very popular in France during the Baroque period. During the 18th century, exoticism triumphed in all forms of art, whereas geography was not taken too seriously: India in this piece embodies Turkey, Peru, Persia and America at the same time. All in the spirit of the galant lightheartedness and the entertainment that is striven for, just as at the court of Louis XIV, who celebrated a hedonism.

Listening to L’Arlésienne in a new way

Christian Zacharias wants to present a new face of the L’Arlésienne to the audience. This new side of the famous piece is especially suited to the size of the Kammerorchester Basel. The original version of the melodrama was written for 26 musicians, rather than the full symphonic orchestra that the well known suites require. Carvalho, director of the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris had the idea to trust George Bizet with the composition of L’Arlésienne, the book being given to him by Alphonse Daudet in 1869.

From stage piece to orchestra suite

The piece was first performed on October 1st1872, but was not to the audience’s liking, who felt disturbed by the music and generally were not interested in Bizet’s composition set on a farm. Bizet would not give up and reworked L’Arlésienne into an orchestra-suite, which was a great success when performed by Pasdeloup on November 10th. For Christian Zacharias the in between movements that are written in chamber music style, are equally as important as the movements selected for the suites. Zacharias conducts the Kammerorchester Basel in this concert.

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