Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Save around 22%
with these retailers

Symphony No. 1 (1897) *
song - 'k En hoore u nog niet
Liebeslied; Appassionato
Clair de lune
Le prisonier

LOUIS MAES (1850-1906)
Organ Sonata op. 175

KAREL MESTDAGH (1850-1924)
Six New Divertimenti in waltz-form (1887)

REMI GESQUIERE (1866-1962)
Het drijven

JULES BOUQUET (1914-1995)
Horn Sonata (1942)

MAURITS DEROO (1902-1988)
Maria Magdalena - Symphonic Poem (1939) *
String Quartet No. 1 (1931)
Heimwee (1934)
Stedelijk Conservatorium SO, Brugge/Wilfried Deroo
JUBILEUM CD - 150 2 CDs 68.49 +74.13

Jaar - Stedelijk Conservatorium, Brugge CSB 1501

This varied conspectus of Belgian music takes us into some very obscure corners. In fact my usual reference books failed me completely.

The MAES Organ Sonata is curvaceous in the manner of the British composer Hubert Parry but with a lighter touch. Harmonically crunchy its gentle charms have some full blown splendours that never descend into bombast. If occasionally it smacks of a hymn tune meditation this simply reinforces affection for a piece sensitively spun by Ignace Michiels at the Conservatorium organ. A splashy touch of Widor hangs over the opening of the concluding Allegro.

Jan vande Weghe despatches MESTDAGH's Chopin-derived waltz essays - glancingly gracious in every department. RYELANDT's impressionism sidles insinuatingly, slow of pulse like an exquisite music box winding down, contrasting with the Beethovenian Appassionato. I noticed a passing faltering by Vande Weghe but otherwise he is utterly convincing in music that put me in mind of Guillaume Lekeu in his cello sonata.

Catherine Vandevelde (soprano) and Peter Oerlemans (piano) take the songs. The first, Fantasia, by MESTDAGH is a more emotionally complex piece than the waltz essays might have suggested. It reminded me uncannily of the glummer soliloquising aspects Hamilton Harty's more serious songs or the wayward mistiness of Bax's Sheiling Song. There is a touch of Harty's Seawrack about it. GHESQUIERE'S Het Drijven is closer to the Fauré school though again rather downbeat - of a piece in character with the Mestdagh. The RYELANDT song 'k En Hoore is sly and charming rather like the Granados songs. All three are lovingly done. The group of three songs by RYELANDT from his 1897 Op. 19 set navigate some tricky subtle emotions and in the first of the three Vandevelde's sovereign voice is heard in singing that is long, satin, quiet and high. The next song which requires a darker voice struggles under pressure but all is forgiven for the final Tristesse which although having some operatic impetuosity is reflective in an exotic Far Eastern strain.

JULES BOUQUET's Sonata for horn and piano (1942) is much more modern, written during the German occupation. Piet Dombrecht's horn is not always secure in what must be a tough piece although he is in devastating control in the super quiet role in the slow movement (a touch of Ravel's Pavane). Its role is typically melodic - singing heroically for all the world as if Bouquet rather venerated Rachmaninov. Did I also note a hint of Khachaturyan in the first movement. The theme in the first movement is memorable, robustly long-legged and resilient - a golden theme. An Autumn ease falls like feathered leaves over the central movement. It would be good to hear this piece in competitions instead of the other Horn staples. Bouquet does not make you work at all hard. Whether he struck quite the right humorous mood in the last movement I rather doubt. The other two movements seem of much greater substance.

MAURITS DEROO's 1939 tone poem Maria Magdalena explodes with a head-on collision between the lithe tunefulness of Bliss's Checkmate and Music for Strings and the snarling ruthless Machine Age voltage of Antheil and Mossolov. Later episodes are less turbulent but a chilled-to-the bone pall hangs over almost everything reminding me somewhat of Luis de Freitas Branco's Artificial Paradises tone poem. Intermittently there are hints of Sibelius (Symphony No. 4 and Tapiola) and Franck (Psyche) and Shostakovich. This is a most unnerving piece - with a tougher hide than my shopping list of influences might tentatively suggest. It certainly is not atonal but the language is agreeably disorientating and the piece proceeds jerkily from incident to incident. There is some complexity in the final five minutes where string writing influenced by the final movement of Tchaikovsky 6 surrenders to a dreamy honeyed pulse. Most impressive and well worth a second listen.

DEROO's first quartet from 1931 is touched with the wand of the Ravel quartet

RYELANDT's Symphony No. 1 receives its recording premiere. Its tiger attack opening has the springy stertorous rush of Schumann's Symphonies No. 2 and No. 4 and Overture, Scherzo and Finale. The strings are not as secure as they are in the Deroo poem although perfectly adequate. The slow movement of Tchaikovsky 5 hangs over the second movement. I sensed a lack of security in the brass section but though noticeable it does not alloy the pleasure of this nicely reflective movement. The scherzo is chuggingly Brucknerian (Symphony 7) with something of Schubert's Great C Major about it.

The notes are brief and in Flemish only. They give the full French and Flemish texts as sung but no translations.

Altogether a most enterprising set and well worth a purchase.


Rob Barnett


The Conservatorium has at this moment produced no other discs.

Since Baron Joseph Ryelandt has been the director of this Conservatorium, you could find some interesting material in their archives. Enquire at , that is the E-mail adress of themusic-library.


Rob Barnett

Reviews from previous months

Reviews carry sales links but you can also purchase from:

Return to Index