La chasse du jeune Henri

March 2 2010

The impress of that mighty race.

Most post-baroque hunting music bores me, but the overture of Méhul’s opera Le jeune Henri (fp Opéra-Comique 1797, in revised version 1801) is charming. The sections described dawn, the call to the hunt, the trail found, lost, found again, the gallop, the killing of the stag.

Horns, especially at 7:59. Méhul had them placed at different points in the orchestra so that they could answer each other.

The republican audience of 1797, when the opera was called La jeunesse de Henri IV, disliked everything except the overture, which had to be repeated.

Another half-forgotten hit among hunting pieces of the time is Sir George Alexander Macfarren’s rather manic concert overture Chevy Chace (sic) (1836, so from the Land ohne Musik), nyoY (not yet on YouTube, but Hyperion have recorded it), which Mendelssohn conducted and Wagner admired.

Méhul was the only important French symphonist before Berlioz.

Michel Swierczewski, Orchestra of the Gulbenkian Foundation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s