Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Rattle Reviewed

Wed Jun 13 2012

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Sir Simon Rattle and the OAE at the Royal Festival Hall

Here’s a round up of reviews from Sunday’s French Impressionists concerts with Sir Simon Rattle and Pierre-Laurent Aimard:

“Finally, a revelatory La Mer. This was not the Channel at Eastbourne (where Debussy had composed the piece), but Atlantic fury breaking against the black rocks of the Faroes. And Rattle as Poseidon drove every raging tide, every colliding cross-current within a score which thrilled as it has seldom done before.”

The Times (Subscribers only)

“it was the performance of Debussy’s La Mer that was the most startling – textures were opened up, subtleties of scoring made points that are often lost with modern orchestras, while Rattle always balanced the symphonic and the descriptive elements carefully”


“The repertoire of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is creeping away from the 18th century and into the 20th with such unashamed eagerness, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see them throwing up an urtext edition of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” in a few seasons…Few other periods of music can benefit more from the qualities that a period ensemble like the OAE can offer than the French school of Debussy, Fauré and Ravel. And there are few people better at dealing with the musical space and colour of this period than Rattle. No one interested in the possibilities of sound, then, would have been left disappointed with last night’s concert.”

The Arts Desk

“La mer impressed at certain episodes, but failed to connect as a narrative. The orchestra – with several performances of the work already – approached the first section tentatively. Aside from some warm-toned trumpets, the performance sounded little different from Rattle’s Berlin recordings of these works.”

Classical Source

“Rattle’s talent for bringing out details and working them into a cohesive whole illustrated the braying of the gulls, the popping of spray, and even if there wasn’t the last ounce of sheen to the string tone light still glinted from the wavetops. This was a daring reading, exhilarating especially in the outer two movements. It had as much drive and – say it very quietly – as much colour as this conductor would extract in an excellent performance from his home band. ”

Bach Track


“This was a terrific concert. Even the torrential June (June!) rain and the prospect of the late-night London-Bristol train couldn’t dampen my smile and elation as I made my way home afterwards”

Classical Music Magazine

Plus two reviews from the late-night repeat of the two pieces by Debussy in The Night Shift.

“full marks to the OAE not just for magnificent playing but also for creative thinking; and for their willingness to experiment with the new, as well as resuscitating the old in the form of those spot-on historic instruments.”

Jessica Duchen Blog

“”Nice easy culture from Sir Simon Rattle – tasty and good for you. Marvelous stuff!”

London at Large


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