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Strauss: Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme Munich Chamber Orchestra, Ustinov, Rickenbacher (Koch Schwann)

Richard Strauss's witty incidental music to Moliere's comedy is more familiar as a suite than, as here, in its entirety. But what will either attract or dissuade Strauss fans is how they take to Sir Peter Ustinov's new text and narration. - While he never strays too far from the spirit of the piece, and his contribution is often amusing, there can be only a limited number of times it can be enjoyed without it getting in the way of the music. HHH

Alessandro Scarlatti: Stabat Mater Il Seminario Musicale, Lesne (Virgin Veritas)

Alessandro, father of Domenico, is the lesser-known of the two Scarlattis, but his vocal music shows him to be a master of the form. While his setting of the Stabat Mater cannot rival Pergolesi's, it is a captivating work in its own right. Gerard Lesne leads his specialist team in a superb performance that relies on both his own alto voice and his soprano Sandrine Piau. HHHH