Fauré: Pénélope - Crespin, Jobin, Massard; Inglebrecht. RTF, 1956
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Despite his formidable talents and vision, Gabriel Faurés' operas did not capture the public's attention in the same way his songs and instrumental works did. An inspection of his most popular opera Pénélope reveals both its merits and its weaknesses. Having only listened to the work while following the vocal score (available for free on IMSLP) I can't speak to how it works theatrically, although it does seem that at times it comes across as somewhat inert. For example, the moment when Penelope and Ulysses are reunited there is much bombast from the orchestra but there is little in the way of true passion that make for a classic love duet. What the score does have going for it is Fauré's singular talent for orchestra color and harmonic invention. Many passages seem as if they could be right out of Pelléas et Mélisande, and he uses this varied palate to recreate the sights, sounds and aromas of ancient Ithaca. This recording will also please Régine Crespin fans as it captures her at her most fresh and ravishing. The sound is excellent.