> KAUFMANN Chant Concertant etc. ADW7420 [JW]: Classical Reviews- March 2002 MusicWeb-International






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Serge KAUFMANN
Chant Concertant*
Suite Yiddish+
Selah#
Adamah*
Duos for Violins*^
L’Eau retrouvee <

Jean-Pascal Introvigne, baritone <
Hubert Chachereau, violin *
Cecile Moreau, violin ^
Phillipe Pennanguer, cello +
Marie-Josephe Truys, piano +
Ad Libitum String Quintet #
Orchestre Bernard Calmel conducted by Bernard Calmel
Ensemble Vocal Melodia directed by Evelyne Schwab <
Recorded in the Auditoriom of l’Ecole Nationale de Musique d’Aulnay-sous-Bois December 1998

PAVANE ADW 7420 [74.02]

 

Experience Classicsonline

I can’t give you Kaufmann’s date of birth because it’s nowhere to be found in the frequently impenetrable booklet notes, which are simultaneously obscure and couched in language more commonly found in the writings of Ecstatics. Their overheated nature is a pity because thereby a simpler truth is occluded; Kaufmann’s aesthetic is lyrical, songful and specifically "Yiddish", to use a rather vague term that the composer himself uses in his pleasing cello suite. The Chant Concertant is affectingly declamatory, deep tremors in the bass, and the slow section from 4’50 spinning a succulent line – from 8’50 a Stravinskian allegro erupts flecked with ghostly orchestral slivers as the cadenza is introduced. His writing is more obviously but less complexly Jewish than Bloch’s and the neo-classical grit in the Chant gives it a spine that might otherwise seem lacking, The Suite Yiddish had its origin in a work for violin and piano, first performed by Olivier Charlier and Pascale Devoyon, both accomplished and sensitive artists. Here I find, in this arrangement for cello and piano, that the three pieces are rather too generic in their Hebraic impress although the concluding Priere has an affecting simplicity – think of a Jewish Keltic Lament. Selah was written for a quintet of two violins, two violas and a cello and is again explicitly Yiddish – a changeable piece, by turns lyrical and discursive with the cello assuming lyrical prominence and a gradual lightening of the density of string tone – there is frequent unison playing – before resuming rhythmic impetus toward the climax. It’s hardly the masterpiece claimed by the booklet note writer, though.

The Duos for violin pay oblique homage – in their folk origins, not in texture, technique or ambition – to those of Bartok. These are not virtuosic studies but are very much simpler, less purposeful perhaps, instead mining a seemingly inexhaustible quarry of associative melodies. There is some trilling (No 7) but, except at the very end, no pizzicatos at all and no double-stopping. Which will alert one to the relative simplicity of the means of expression – the limited technical demands exist sufficient to express the entwined simplicity of the melodies - a gently affecting work, well played. L’eau retrouvee is made of rather sterner stuff. It’s the only piece on the disc without obvious Jewish references. Opening with thunderous vocal howls and burnished with deep strings and an important clarinet part this is a quizzical work, a substantial fifteen-minute Cantata with baritone soloist. Unfortunately the text of the poem – by the composer himself – is untranslated but seems to be a reflective-philosophical affair and the work ends, after struggle, in those same opening shouts now transformed through experience into cries of affirmation. It’s not an immediately likeable work but an accomplished one. Performances are sound if not breathtaking and the disc offers a good conspectus of this French composer’s compositional directions.


Jonathan Woolf


 



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