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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Raphaël FUMET (1898-1979)
Hommage à Raphaël FUMET
L'Ange des Bois
Lacrimosa
Barcarolle
Ode Concertante
La Rose
Toccata
La Nuit
Bruno Rigutto (piano); Gérard Caussée (viola); Gabriel Fuet (flute); Jean Mouillère (violin); Jean Galard (organ); Ichiro Nodaïra (piano 2-5);
Orchestra de chambre Jean-Jacques Wiederker/Anne Wiederker (soloviolin).
rec March 1988, l'Association Musique-Esprit.
ARION ARN 68475 [61.06]


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Fumet came of a very musical and literary family. After studies with d'Indy he would have none of the aesthetic guerilla warfare of the Parisian scene. He withdrew from the Paris (where he had played organ at various cinemas) at first to Seine-et-Marne and then to Angers. He had previously enjoyed his years in Montparnasse - a figure associated with artist friends such as Modigliani, Juan Gris, Joseph Bernard and Jeanne Hébuterre. He died in Angers.

Pace the fulsome notes L'Anges des Bois (piano solo, Rigutto) is an ombrageous rhapsody with an improvisatory feel. The Slavonic-Hebraic Lacrimosa is well taken by the clean-toned Caussée - a player on the world stage, as is Rigutto (who you may recall from a recording of the Dvorak Piano Concerto). The viola sings smoothly in the neatly rounded Barcarolle. La Rose is in much the same mood though Mouillère does not have quite the smooth tone production of Caussée.

The Ode Concertante is of another order of magnitude altogether in terms of inventive imagination. Any French piece for flute and piano (originally written or flute and string orchestra) raises Syrinx-like expectations but this Pan-like work takes a shaded route through the Groves of Dodona. The shadows suggest not just cool (always welcome) but cold and the threat of the woodland bestiary of classical Greece. Impressive indeed but the breathy playing dilutes some of the effect. It would be great to hear what Sharon Bezaly would make of this or indeed Kenneth Smith. It is too much to hope that this would be recorded by James Galway?

The furious flight of the harmonically-tanged Toccata (Galard) comes as a bit of a shock after all this chamber music. Its grand plan and general free thinking approach reminded me of the Concertante. It is no mere scion to the famous Widor and Vierne appetisers.

La Nuit for string orchestra is further evidence of an unruly and liberated mind who felt more in common with the likes of Schrecker, Zemlinsky, Schoenberg (Gurrelieder, Pelleas et Melisande), Goossens and Van Dieren than with the prettier fragrances of Ravel and Debussy. This is music of understatement and subtlety, It was composed for ORTF to illustrate a poem by Pierre Emmanuel. Expect more Berg and Siegfried Idyll than Ravel or Debussy.

It is mildly frustrating to be denied dates for these works. However the notes are otherwise useful if prone to special pleading. This further affirms the variety of the Gallic treasury. There is a British Music Society. Why is there not a French Music Society, I wonder?

Let us now keep our fingers crossed for a recording of Fumet's Symphonie de l'Ame, a string quartet, a wind quintet and various other orchestral works.

Rob Barnett


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