Pretty Much The Definitive Account
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 05/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The wonderful French conductor/composer Manuel Rosenthal (1904-2003) died one day short of his 99th birthday. A pupil and close friend of Ravel, Rosenthal left a wide variety of excellent recordings. This CD gives us "Gaiete Parisienne" from the source, for it was Rosenthal who in 1938 arranged this delightful pastiche based on Offenbach's operas.
Rosenthal recorded Gaiete Parisienne three times: in 1953 on a monophonic Remington LP, and then twice with the Monte-Carlo Orchestra (a 1977 recording for EMI and this one for Naxos, made when he was 92 years old!). I confess to owning all three recordings, each of which is somewhat slower than those by most other conductors.
Which ONE of those to own? They all have their merits, but if I could keep just one, it would be this Naxos CD. It has GREAT sound, it's apparently the only one available on CD at the moment, and it's coupled with Rosenthal's other famous Offenbach-based ballet score "Offenbachiana." Keep your eye out for the more complete version of the latter score, conducted by Rosenthal with the better Paris Opera Orchestra. That was available on a now deleted Ades CD called "Hommage A Manuel Rosenthal," and it contained about 15 minutes more music than this Naxos CD provides (including the nifty Apache Dance). I am also fond of the Urania LP version of Gaiete with celebrated Offenbach conductor Rene Leibowitz leading the London Philharmonic, but that has not yet shown up on CD. If it does, I would suggest buying that one as a supplement to this fine last effort by Rosenthal. Among the faster stereo CD accounts currently available, I would opt for Felix Slatkin's (EMI).
Not the best one Rosenthal recorded
Classic Music Lover | Maryland, USA | 07/03/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Manuel Rosenthal arranged this frothy ballet score from Offenbach melodies both familiar and obscure, so presumably this recording would be a definitive interpretation. Unfortunately, of the three recordings he made of Gaite, this one's just not competitive. Perhaps because he was in his mid-90s when he made this third recording, the performance is just so s-l-o-w, it no longer seems like a ballet, but rather a "tonal picture." Rosenthal's recording in the mid-1950s with the Berlin RIAS orchestra for Remington, and a later recording (late 1970s) for EMI (with the same orchestra as this Naxos CD, coincidentally) are just so much more effective.
One should give fair dues to Monsieur Rosenthal just for making the effort to wax this recording in his tenth decade ... but you can do better with his earlier renditions, as well as a number of other conductors who have made equally fine recordings of the complete Offenbach/Rosenthal score. Seek out Eugene Ormandy, Arthur Fiedler, Anatole Fistoulari, and even Georg Solti as useful alternatives.
A similar situation exists with the selections from "Offenbachiana" that serve as a filler on the Naxos CD. Rosenthal created this pastiche on a commission from Remington Records back in the mid-1950s ... and he recorded the complete score twice (first in Berlin at the time of its composition ... later on in France in the 1970s). Here, we we are given only about one-quarter of the score, and again it's played too slowly. Rosenthal's French full-score performance is available on an Ades CD."