July 19, 2018

Gramophone’s Recording of the Month: Bizet’s Les pêcheurs de perles

“…it’s as fine a cast as has been assembled for a recording of Les pêcheurs de perles and immediately claims top spot on my shelves.”

We are proud to share with you that our release of  “Bizet – Les pêcheurs de perles (The Pearl Fishers)” is chosen to be the Recording of the Month of Gramophone. The review praised the brilliant performance of Julie Fuchs, Cyrille Dubois, Florian Sempey, Luc Bertin-Hugault, Alexandre Bloch , Orchestre National de Lille , and Les Cris de Paris. Read the glowing review below.

But it’s the casting of the central trio of characters where this recording triumphs, with no grit in the musical oyster. Pearl Fishershasn’t fared especially well on disc and there are very few that stand up well to scrutiny. Arguably, you have to go back to 1953 for the finest Nadir and Leïla, French-Canadian husband and wife Léopold Simoneau and Pierrette Alarie. Until now. Cyrille Dubois is an outstanding Nadir. He floats his light tenor with honeyed ease in ‘Je crois entendre encore’, the high B natural at the end exquisitely placed. Easily the loveliest bit of singing I’ve heard all year. Julie Fuchs’s Leïla is no less delectable. Leïla’s Act 2 aria ‘Comme autrefoisdans la nuit sombre’ is beautifully sung, as delicate as Ileana Cotruba∞ (for Prêtre) and less ‘mooning’ in manner than Janine Micheau (for Pierre Dervaux), warmed by gentle vibrato. Fuchs is far from a wilting flower, though, with just enough steel after her pleas to Zurga to save Nadir’s life only to inflame his jealousy.

Zurga is often the weak link on disc, with several woolly baritones on display, the worst of which is the throaty Guillermo Sarabia for Prêtre. Florian Sempey is a superb Zurga here, his lithe baritone strong enough to make him a charismatic leader, shaping his Act 3 aria sensitively as Zurga despairs that his friend is condemned to die at dawn. 

Mark Pullinger

Read the full review on Gramophone

Photo by Ugo Ponte