Sinfonia of London & John Wilson - Escales: French Orchestral Works

Review Sinfonia of London & John Wilson - Escales: French Orchestral Works

Once upon a time there was an orchestra based in London, which has always been the city of ad hoc and specialty orchestras, recruited from the pool of established major orchestras, such as the London Symphony Orchestra, and continues to be recruited to this day. Among the specialty orchestras that were successful in the 1950s was the Sinfonia of London, a spin-off of the London Symphony Orchestra. As a pure recording orchestra, the Sinfonia of London was primarily dedicated to the lucrative business of recording film soundtracks. The ensemble recorded "serious" classical music under the direction of John Barbirolli and Colin Davis. In the sixties the Sinfonia of London came to an end. In the eighties, a new ensemble appeared on the record market, which was turning into a CD market, under the name Sinfonia of London, which again financed itself by recording film soundtracks. The Sinfonia of London experiences a third and current incarnation beginning in 2018.

The founder and director of this ensemble is John Wilson. As it says on the Wikipedia platform: "John Wilson's hobby is the founding of orchestras. He started out in college with a small jazz ensemble, which became the John Wilson Orchestra, specializing in music from Hollywood musicals". With this ensemble, John Williams has produced a vast number of film soundtrack CDs. Parallel to the ensemble that bears his name, John Williams is conducting the professional symphony orchestra "Sinfonia of London" for two years now, which in its third incarnation is once again made up of top musicians from the London scene, and which is primarily financed by recordings on the Chandos label. The first two recording projects with Korngold's Symphony in F sharp and his violin concerto, which have been released on CDs and as downloads, had received widespread and brilliant reviews.

The most recent recording project, Escales, focuses on music by French composers who made their contributions to the concert repertoire during the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. Well-known pieces on Escales include Debussy's Prélude à l'Après-Midi, Chabrier’s España, Massenet's Méditation from his opera Thaïs and Ravel's Rhapsodie Espagnole. Less well known are probably his symphonic poem Le Rouet d'Omphale by Saint-Saëns and the works of Maurice Duruflé and Jacques Ibert which are included on Escales. Maurice Duruflé, who has remained famous for his organ works and his Requiem, created his Trois Danses op. 6 in 1932, which exudes French flair in its purest form, while Ibert's three Escales, inspired by travels in Italy, North Africa and Spain, are examples of Impressionist compositions that exude a floatingly light French atmosphere in the best sense of the word.

Only very rarely can one hear French compositions of Impressionism in the playfully perfect execution as by the Sinfonia of London on Escales and the refined, lucid shaping of their conductor John Wilson. This album, like the two previous albums with this line-up and not least the perfect recording technique, is the absolute sensation.

Sinfonia of London
John Wilson, conductor

Sinfonia of London & John Wilson - Escales: French Orchestral Works

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