Gustave Charpentier, a name that may not ring many bells now, but during the 20th century, was one of the most popular composers of Opera; primarily based on the huge success of his only major work, Louise.
Charpentier lived from 1860-1956 and all that time he composed very little, especially after Louise premiered in 1900. He did compose a number of other works, but none with the great popularity that one Opera achieved.
Impressions d’Italie was a suite of orchestral pieces which served as the basis for Louise. They were composed in 1892, some 8 years before Louise was premiered.
This broadcast performance of the Napoli movement is guessed at being from 1952 (although I am sure I will get the correct date shortly) features the French National Radio Orchestra, conducted by the legendary Eugène Bigot, himself a frequent performer of Charpentier’s works.
Like most all of the French Radio transcriptions I’ve been running the last couple of years, it’s not really known if any of the originals of these have survived or if they were ever issued commercially. They are wonderful recordings of rare performances, often by performers not widely known or recorded themselves, and they make for great listening. Sometimes it’s frustrating because the sound quality isn’t always as good as it could be, or the discs themselves haven’t aged particularly well (16″ transcription discs not highly regarded by radio stations at the time), but inside those grooves lay some fascinating documents and amazing discoveries. I will continue to be running these over the coming months/years (there’s some 700, which should keep everyone busy for a while) and hopefully you’ll enjoy these just as much as I have over the years.
In the meantime, hit the play button and enjoy.