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Eve CASTOR (b. 1969)
Pleins et Delices: Oeuvres de musiques de chambre: Opus XI  [9:51]; Opus V (1990) [1:36]; Opus X (homage I à Berio) [7 :17] ; Opus XII (hommage II à Berio) [5:57]; Opus XIII [5 :13]; Opus IV [16 :15]; Opus VI [9 :44]
Hubert Villette (piano) [1,2], Sonia de Beaufort (mezzo soprano) [1-3]; Jean Lorrain (reciter) [1]; Christa Mosimann (alto) [3]; Marie-Violaine Cadoret (violin) [3]; Elvio Cipollone (clarinet) [5]; Nathalie Villette (cello) [10-12], Sonata Concert [4], Florian Quartet [6-9]
rec. 1996, Studio Chesnay, Strasbourg. DDD
QUANTUM QM6981 [60:21]

Experience Classicsonline


From the opening bars, this is music that has an impact. The fragmented style of Opus XI, a trio for piano, mezzo-soprano and reciter, has the effect of keeping the listener alert and creating a differing array of textures. It is rare for the instruments to sound simultaneously; there are short solo passages and duos, but very few (if any) moments where all three are used at the same time. The style is slightly reminiscent of Stravinsky - Oedipus Rex springs to mind, particularly because of the use of a male narrator - and the fluidity of the Italian text is beautifully maintained. The text is taken from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’, and the musical treatment is suitably dramatic. 

Opus V is a short duo for piano and mezzo-soprano, which reminded me of the poetic moments in Boulez’s Le Marteau sans Maitre; Castor has a wonderful talent for shaping melodic phrases and creating a contemporary lyricism in her works. Opus X, the first homage to Berio, is a trio for alto, mezzo-soprano and violin, using texts by Paul Celan and Emily Dickinson. This is a haunting work which uses language and the differing timbres of alto and mezzo voices to excellent effect. 

The second homage to Berio, Opus XII, is a duo for violin and double bass. Castor’s lyricism remains in her instrumental writing, and she makes careful use of tone colours for musical variety. The clarinet solo, Opus XIII, - described as a ‘duo for clarinet solo’ - makes use of multiphonics within the melodic line. With a composer so concerned with melody, as Castor is, it is unsurprising that she is a fine exponent of single line music. Solo pieces can be among the more difficult compositional challenges, but this work is crafted with a sense of fluidity and naturalness, and is a testament to Castor’s abilities. 

The opening of the String Quartet, Opus IV, is homophonic and contrasts well with the previous works on the disc. This is a captivating work, which shows an understanding of the medium. The four movements have a range of moods but maintain a general coherence, and an expressive musical language without being overly indulgent. The work has a good overall structure and makes use of a variety of timbral colours to give the piece a sense of drama and direction. 

The final work on the disc is Opus IV, a piece for cello solo. Comprising three short movements, this ten minute work is full of variety, making use of the full range of the instrument and the characteristics of different registers. This is an expressive work, with Eve Castor once again maintaining a fine balance between a contemporary harmonic language and emotional appeal. 

I know very little about Eve Castor. The liner notes say only that she began to learn music from her mother and later studied composition with Louis Noel Belaubre and Pierre Doury, and a largely fruitless web search did little to enlighten me further. Her music speaks for itself, though. She has an individual style which fuses modernism with melody. Her music is expressive and lyrical without compromising its harmonic language. The performances on this disc are all excellent, with Opus XI providing a particularly high-quality opening to the disc. Elvio Cipollone’s clarinet playing is beautifully expressive and makes an extremely well written work come to life, while Nathalie Villette’s performance of Opus VI is highly skilled and wonderfully phrased. This is a world premiere recording of which all the contributors, not least the composer, deserve to be proud.

Carla Rees

 


 


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