The impress of that mighty race

November 6 2008

The old Grove.

“Though Méhul’s new and ingenious combinations were not always successful, and though his melodies were often wanting in that life and dash which rouse an audience, it must be acknowledged that with all his faults his work bears the stamp of a very individual mind and character, and the impress of that mighty race of 1789, with whom to will was to do, but amongst whose many gifts that of grace was too often wanting. Had he but possessed this fascinating quality, Méhul might have been the Mozart of France. As it is, we cannot withhold our admiration from the man who carried on Gluck’s work with even more than Gluck’s musical skill, regenerated opéra-comique, and placed himself at the head of the composers of his own time and nation.”

Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 1877-89, 1902 edition.

2 Responses to “The impress of that mighty race”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    La chasse du jeune Henri, from the opera Le jeune Henri (1797), doesn’t lack life or dash. The four completed surviving symphonies (1808-10) are wonderful, especially the first two. Méhul was only seven years younger than Mozart, but seems far closer to Beethoven.

    The recordings of the symphonies on Nimbus with the Gulbenkian Orchestra under Michel Swierczewski are good, with clear daylit sound. Those of the first two on Naxos with the Rhenish Philharmonic under Jorge Rotter are rougher, but a degree more urgent.

    The most famous opera is Joseph (1807): an opéra comique in that it uses spoken dialogue.

  2. […] La chasse du jeune Henri March 2, 2010 The impress of that mighty race […]

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