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.