BIZET L’Arlésienne Suites FAURÉ Masques et Bergamasques
Winner of the 2009 Besançon Competition, Kazuki Yamada was just 23 when he was appointed the first-ever Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. This is the first of three releases of dance repertoire he will record in Geneva for Pentatone Classics, whose admirable sound engineering certainly demonstrates to handsome effect the fabulous acoustic of Victoria Hall.
Yamada displays an interpretative nous, strength of personality and scrupulous attention to detail that are singularly impressive, and he draws some (for the most part) winningly alert and tastefully refined playing from the OSR (whose principal flute and harp cover themselves in glory). His reading of Fauré’s adorable Masques et Bergamasques balances poise and spirit to consistently enchanting effect, the valedictory ‘Pastorale’ distilling a particularly affecting poignancy and rare grace. In both L’Arlésienne suites I still find it hard to set aside memories of Beecham’s wholly magical accounts with the RPO from September 1956 but Yamada conducts with no little élan: the achingly wistful Adagietto from No 1 is really very touching, while No 2’s ‘Farandole’ builds to a properly exhilarating finish (Ernest Guiraud’s ingenious and masterful combination of tunes pays off superbly here). In the Gounod Faust ballet music there’s some momentarily dodgy brass tuning to contend with at the start of the No 2 Adagio but otherwise all goes swimmingly, and I for one eagerly await future offerings from this gifted, budding maestro.