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Audio CD, Import, 28 Jun 2019

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Jeanne d'Arc au bucher is one of the most inventive oratorios ever composed, constantly flitting between styles and colours.It follows the historic French heroine in the hours leading up to her execution.Indeed, the run-up to her death sentence is reconstructed as if in a crime novel.Paul Claudel's lively libretto contrasts Jeanne with an assorted lot of strange and wonderful characters.More than enough reason for Honegger to open up a colourful paintbox: the work features a succession of choral passages infused with spirituality, cubist-like blocks of sound and even bits of material reminiscent of the music hall.This is grist to conductor Stephane Deneve's mill, who is a leading authority on French music and a regular guest with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; together with two choirs and a variety of soloists and actors, he realized a compelling and moving Jeanne d'Arc au bucher.

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