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Now we plunge to further depths, this time with a recording of Auber’s Le Cheval de Bronze, a hit in 1835, since when only the overture has maintained any foothold in the repertoire, and that’s precarious. I approached this with interest – an underrated composer who wrote for stellar singers, an historic recording obviously considered worthy of reissue, perhaps the chance to discover a lost gem. Alas, the performance is ghastly and I cannot begin to think why it has seen the light of day again. It was recorded in 1953 and the sound is not good. I am happy to tackle the tantalising vocal glimpses offered by the sonic palimpsest of a Mapleson Cylinder, but two CDs of harsh and tinny noise are not attractive. The opera is sung in German, so any chance of French grace is extinguished. The conducting is rumbustious. The singers are a poor lot, maybe they were as dispirited performing it as I am listening to it. It all makes it difficult to form any positive view of the actual opera. Let’s hope that Auber gets another chance; perhaps the Venice-based French foundation Palazzo Bru Zane could sink its teeth into and allow us to evaluate Le Cheval with a concert performance or recording. But, until that day, avoid.

Francis Muzzu Read the full review on Agora Classica


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