> HARMONIES NOUVELLES POUR L’EUROPE [HC]: Classical Reviews- May 2002 MusicWeb(UK)

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Works by Gehrard SPORKEN (born 1960), Peter CABUS (1923 – 2000), Jacques LEDUC (born 1932), Daniel CAPELLETTI (born 1958), Victor LEGLEY (1915 – 1994), Jean-Marie SIMONIS (born 1931), Jan VAN DER ROOST (born 1956), Paul-Baudouin MICHEL (born 1930), Wilfried WESTERLINCK (born 1945), Jean BAILY (born 1937), Frits CELIS (born 1921), Eric FELDBUSCH (born 1922) and Piet SWERTS (born 1960)
Arte del Suono Quartet (Lola Bobesco, Suzanne Janssens, violins; Jean-Elie Homatas, viola; Jan Matthe, cello); Rafaël Macaluso (trumpet); Armand Rahier (oboe)
Recorded: Chapelle de Berchem-Ste-Agathe, Brussels, June 1994
PAVANE ADW 7321 [58:10]
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The project of this collective work was launched at the instigation of Lola Bobesco who asked thirteen Belgian composers of all generations to write a short piece evoking, in one way or another, each of the then twelve countries of the European Community. All these pieces were composed some time in 1993.

The first piece however acts as a nondescript introduction to the cycle and is thus more "generic" if I may put it like that. Gehrard Sporken’s Quasi una Ouvertura – Hymne, for trumpet and string quartet, opens with a short fanfare for strings and ends with a quotation of the opening of Charpentier’s Te Deum (of Eurovision fame). All the other composers evoke in their own way each of the European countries, thus Peter Cabus evokes the Netherlands in his Twee geusenlieder, thus alluding to Uilenspiegel and the fight of the Low Countries against the Spanish invaders embodied by the Duke of Alba. Jacques Leduc’s Intrada et Danserie Op.75 pays homage to the great polyphonist Orlando di Lasso born in Mons whereas Luxemburg-born Daniel Capelletti chose to evoke Italy with his short song-like Me compare. Victor Legley on the other hand decided for a nondescript Movement for France while Jean-Marie Simonis’s evocation of Portugal is a small-scale tone-poem Escale en Algarve Op.45. Jan Van der Roost faced the fairly easy task to depict Ireland and he did so in Cead mile failte which he appropriately enough scored for oboe and string quartet. Those of you who have already visited Luxemburg City will not be surprised that Paul-Baudouin Michel titled his piece Viaduc. (Logically enough too, this short compact piece is laid-out in a clear arch-form.) In his Scherzo Tedesco, Wilfried Westerlinck briefly and rather obliquely alludes to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Jean Baily’s Daphne portrays Greece whereas Andersen’s Little Mermaid was best suited to represent Denmark. Thus Frits Celis’s beautifully atmospheric small-scale tone-poem Il canto della Piccina Sirena Op.48. Eric Feldbusch’s Spleen depicts the United Kingdom briefly quoting Greensleeves and the Westminster Chimes. The closing work Zortzico is a joyful Spanish-like dance tune providing for an appropriately colourful conclusion.

Collective works rarely have a life of their own after the occasion for which they were written though they often contain much worthwhile music, albeit in short form. The present release, made a few years ago, is most welcome for each composer managed to remain his own self in spite of the imposed limitations and the more so that it provides a fairly full, though far from complete survey of present-day Belgian music and an enjoyable introduction to these distinguished composers’ output. It will, I hope, whet your appetite for more of these composers’ music. If so, then it was a successful and worthwhile venture.

Hubert Culot

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