This album presents extraordinary works of three twentieth-century composers with diverse cultural backgrounds, underlining the versatility and legacy of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in its centenary year. Richard Strauss’ Schlagobers (Whipped Cream, 1924) is a playful ballet set in a Viennese Konditorei, of which the orchestral suite is featured on this album. With its lively mix of Viennese waltzes and modern harmonies, light-versed tunes interspersed by sudden outbreaks of ravishing beauty, all brilliantly orchestrated, it can be considered a further exploration of the composer’s “Rosenkavalier style”. Claude Debussy is featured with Jeux, Poème dansé (1912), another piece created for a ballet performance, built around an erotic nocturnal search for a lost tennis ball that Pierre Boulez characterized as a “Prélude à-l’Après-midi d’une Faune in sports clothes”. Debussy’s Jeux has been a major source of inspiration for post-war avantgarde composers such as Boulez and Stockhausen, and, therefore, the transition from Jeux to Györgi Ligeti’s Melodien, für Orchester (1971) is not jarring. Melodien has the unmistakable mix of sensuous yet eerie soundscapes that makes most of Ligeti’s works so filmic and appealing.
This album adds a significant chapter to the PENTATONE discography of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, which already contains the complete Bruckner Symphonies with Marek Janowski, three dance-oriented albums with Kazuki Yamada, and concerto recordings with renowned soloists such as Arabella Steinbacher, Johannes Moser and Denis Kozhukhin. On this album, the OSR’s new chief conductor Jonathan Nott makes his PENTATONE debut.