Magazine article Gramophone

Mehul: Uthal

Magazine article Gramophone

Mehul: Uthal

Article excerpt

Mehul  Uthal  Karine Deshayes mez                                 Malvina Yann Beuron ten                                       Uthal Jean-Sebastien Bou bar                               Larmor Sebastien Droy ten                                    Ullin Philippe-Nicolas Martin bar   Chief of the Bards/Third Bard Reinoud Van Mechelen ten                         First Bard Artavazd Sargsyan ten                           Second Bard Jacques-Greg Belobo bass                        Fourth Bard 

Namur Chamber Choir; Les Talens Lyriques / Christophe Rousset

Ediciones Singulares (F) ES1026 (61' * DDD * [S]/[T]/[t])

Released to coincide with the bicentenary of Mehul's death, which falls this year, Christophe Rousset's splendid recording of Uthal was made in tandem with performances at the Opera Royal de Versailles in 2015. Premiered at the Opera-Comique in 1806, the opera derives from the influential Works of Ossian, James Macpherson's supposed 'translations' of Gaelic epic poetry, the inauthenticity of which had not been definitively established at the time of composition. In France, Napoleon was one of many to express open admiration for 'l'Homere du nord', and Ossianic adaptations, both musical and in the visual arts, proliferated during the Empire.

Uthal, however, was a succes d'estime that divided opinion and eventually slipped from the repertory. Jacques Bins de Saint-Victor's occasionally awkward libretto cramps epic narrative within the conventions of French classical tragedy (complete with dialogue in alexandrines), and focuses on the figure of Malvina, her loyalties divided between her father Larmor and her husband Uthal, who has usurped Larmor's throne. To convey the sombre, war-torn atmosphere and penumbral northern setting, Mehul omits violins from his orchestra and gives prominence to brass and high woodwind. …

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