This album is available separately or within a 3-CD
boxed set, of Hahn works, released by Maguelone, that includes concertos
for violin and piano (MAG 111.106 Ė already reviewed on this site) and
songs (to be shortly reviewed on MAG 111.108).
Listening to Reynaldo Hahnís music is always an agreeable
experience. It is usually predominantly sunny and light-hearted. Take
the central movement of the Sonata for Violin and Piano
for instance. It is whimsically subtitled: "12 CV; 8 cyl; 5,000
revs." It is a remarkably close evocation of a speeding motor car.
It is demanding Ė rapid semiquavers throughout its 2í45" duration
- but Clavier and Saroglou surmount its challenges with aplomb. They
are also very sensitive to the music of the opening movement, delivering
a spellbinding performance. Always tasteful, their playing avoids any
hint of bathos or condescension that can so often destroy the fragility
of Hahnís music. The music speaks of comfortable nostalgia and sweet
sentimentality; a beguiling tenderness that is nevertheless tempered
with wit and a steely edge. A hint of regret surfaces in a section that
the author of the booklet notes, Jean Gallois, suggests, appropriately,
is: "filled with reverie and moonlight". This movement has
no formal structure, rather it develops freely presenting its two themes
in various keys. The music is somewhat reminiscent of Franck. Its reverie
spills over into the final movement although here the music climaxes
darkly shaded and tormented.
The other main work in this delightful programme is
the lovely Quintet for Strings and Piano. What gorgeous
tunes! A jolly robust and determined first subject alternating with
a tender dolce amorosa second. This is genial, playful music.
Hahn is generous in his mellifluous melodies. Saraglou and the Quatuor
Denis Clavier respond with nicely accented, spritely rhythmic, joyfully
brio playing that makes Hahnís creation sound fresh and spontaneous.
The central Andante begins with the cello and piano treading rather
disconsolately, grieving. The viola joins in and the atmosphere lightens
only slowly through a resigned but not too unhappy sort of nostalgic
backward glance until the first violin joins in, after a dramatic peroration,
some 60 bars into the movement. At this point there is a calmer atmosphere,
yet with a mix of resignation and hopeless yearning. Clavierís players
discover real beauty in its shadowy lyricism. The concluding movement,
in contrast, is carefree and light-hearted, breezily romping away with
a kind of rustic charm.
One might be tempted to think that Hahnís preponderantly
agreeable, light-hearted music was created easily by this debonair dandy
who charmed his hostesses in their Paris salons during the Belle Epoque.
But the truth is in his own admission: "How I would love to write
a ten-page piece in one day. Instead, it often takes me ten days to
write one page!"
The two shorter pieces in the programme are equally
enchanting. The sublime Romance for Violin and Piano is lilting
salon music. The violin inclines towards tenderness at first but becomes
increasingly animated. The Nocturne, again for Violin and Piano
is Fauré-like especially in its lovely limpid piano figurations.
It begins slightly melancholic but becomes more determined in its impassioned
Beautifully melodic, here are riches in abundance for
the unashamedly romantic. Impeccably played, this music deserves to
be much better known.