Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Josephe GUY-ROPARTZ (1864-1955)
Ouverture, Variations et Final (1914)
Musiques au Jardin (1920)
Nocturne No. 3 (1922)
Francoise Thinat (piano)
rec 1983
ARION ARN 68184 [53.42]

Arion web site

These recordings debuted as an LP. They were issued on CD a decade ago (1991). The fact that they remain AAD (rather like the many older recordings in the Supraphon catalogue is no disadvantage. The sound is warm and close without 'suffocation'. Thinat, a pianist as well attuned to the new as to revival of France's 20th century renaissance, seems to revel in these back-shelf works by one of France's lost generation.

Tripartite titled works are not unheard of in French classical music though in the case of Ropartz's pre-Great War Ouverture, Variations and Final one wonder why he did not call it a sonata. It has the ambition and consummation of a symphonic structure in which bardic Celticism (the shady groves of Druidic Brittany) meets stern Franck-like sentiment. This is a work with nineteenth century romantic foundations patent but with a twentieth century sentience.

Two decades on and we find a transformed Ropartz. The Musiques au Jardin title and the cover photo (Pissaro's 'Un coin de jardin á l'Hermitage') prepare us for a six movement suite of mood pieces and vignettes. This will appeal to anyone who might appreciate an impressionistically skewed Schumann or Chopin. The titles are telling: 1. Prélude matinal; Un oiseau sur le sable de l'allée; 3. Les vieux souvenirs surgissent de l'ombre; 4. Un enfant joue; 5. Le jardin au crépuscule; 6. Rondes et chants. This is certainly not in the schools of Debussy or Ravel. They are played with grace though these are not flowing pieces.

What a pity that the other two Nocturnes are not included. There was plenty of space. This one is part bardic and part impressionism - a lulling night on an oozingly slow tree-overhung river.

A disc that reminds us again of the treasure trove of French music. We have hardly begun. What of Lazzari, Canteloube (beyond the Chants de l'Auvergne), Boucicault-Doucoudray, Florent Schmitt, Witkowski, Louis Aubert and so many others?

Arion and Thinat are to be congratulated on a natural sounding and most sensitive production. So far there have not been any sequels but we live in hope.

Rob Barnett

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