Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Dirk BROSSĖ (born 1960)

Elegy (2000)a
Johan FAVOREEL (born 1957)

Alain CRAENS (born 1957)

Divertimento (1985)b
Experience (1992)ac
Wilfried WESTERLINCK (born 1945)

Pierrot (1999)b
York BOWEN (1884 – 1961)

Fantasy Quintet Op.93 (1932)a
Akira YUYAMA (born 1932)

Divertimento (1968)c
Charles CAMILLERI (born 1931)

Duo-Sonata (1999)c
Jan Guns (bass clarinet); Rita Rommes (percussion)c; Trio Classicumb; The Moscow Chamber Soloistsa
Recorded: "Toots" Studio, VRT, Brussels, November 1999 and April 2000
PHAEDRA 92020 [75:42]


Dirk Brossé is a gifted, versatile and prolific composer who has made quite a reputation with some fine film scores (his score for the Award-nominated Daens is one of his finest so far). His music, though clearly belonging to the 20th Century mainstream, is richly melodic, beautifully crafted and quite appealing. His Elegy for bass clarinet and string quartet, arranged from the original for bass clarinet and piano dating from 1999, is a moving miniature thoroughly characteristic of Brossé’s generous music making.

Johan Favoreel, a recording producer working with the Flemish Radio and Television, was trained at the Royal Conservatoire in Brussels. His short bass clarinet quintet Zebus, dedicated to Jan Guns as are Brossé’s Elegy and most other pieces in this collection, portrays the Greek god who "spent his time eating, drinking and lulling lazily in the sunshine". A delightful miniature with more than a hint of irony.

Some time ago I reviewed a disc published by the Royal Flemish Conservatory (Willem Kersters Composition Class 2002) in which Alain Craens’ beautiful double concerto November Music was included. Here are two other pieces of his. The Divertimento for clarinet, bass clarinet and basset horn, completed in 1985, is a lovely entertaining work in three short, contrasted movements. The somewhat more recent Experience is another attractive short piece for bass clarinet, string quartet and percussion (bells, vibraphone, marimba). Do not be put off by the title, for there is absolutely nothing experimental in this appealing piece.

Westerlinck’s Pierrot, subtitled Divertimento coreografico in omaggio ad Albert Giraud, naturally alludes, albeit obliquely, to Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire composed on texts by Giraud in German translation. Seven short, neatly characterised movements in this attractive, also mildly ironic trio for clarinet, bass clarinet and basset horn. (Just listen to the short tongue-in-cheek quotation from The Nutcracker in the opening March and its restatement at the end of the piece.) This lovely work depicts Pierrot’s various moods as suggested in Giraud’s poems.

York Bowen’s Fantasy Quintet Op.93 is the most substantial work here. By the way, this is its first recording (Sorry, my friends in the British Music Society but we did it first!) and another recording followed some time later (in an all-Bowen programme on BMS 426 CD). This is quintessential Bowen: long flowing tunes, warmly Romantic harmonies with hints of Impressionism and – above all – superbly written. A minor masterpiece.

Yuyama’s Divertimento, a rondo in variation form, was originally written for alto saxophone and marimba, but may be played as it is here. It is a fine piece, though marginally a bit too long for its material, well worth having anyway as is Camilleri’s Duo-Sonata written for Jan Guns and Rita Rommes. It is based on material originally sketched for a work for cello and piano. It is in three concise movements of fairly equal length, of which the last one is some sort of "notated improvisation".

All in all, this is a varied and well played selection of works for a still rather unusual instrument that has nevertheless caught composers’ attention over the years thanks to the tireless championing of some gifted players such as Harry Sparnaay and Jan Guns. A bit too closely recorded at times, but never unbearably so; and there is really much to enjoy here.

Hubert Culot


Information concerning PHAEDRA CDs may be obtained from the following address

Vzw Klassieke Concerten – Phaedra CD
Donkerstraat 51

Or by browsing through their website

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