Witty, urbane and impeccably crafted, the music of André Messager (1853-1929) was as well-liked in its day as was the composer himself. A man of few airs and graces, he managed to be both a hit on the boulevards with a string of successful operettas, and yet earn the respect of his peers by championing some of the more advanced offerings of the day (he conducted the world premieres of both Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande and Charpentier’s Louise ).

Passionnement

By the time he came to compose Passionnément , one his 30 or so stage works, the composer was 73, yet there’s no sign of a slackening of his powers. Indeed, where I’ve sometimes found his charming music a tad unmemorable (both his international hit Les P’tites Michu (1897) and Fortunio (1907) have failed to stay with me despite excellent recordings), in the case of Passionnément I found myself humming along right...