Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Igor STRAVINSKY (1882-1971)
Divertimento, Le baiser de la fée (1932) [21’22]
Paul ENGEL (b. 1949)

Sonogramm I. (1990, rev. 2000) [16’47].
Piano Trio No. 5 Calliope’s descent from Olympus [25’35].
Gottfried von EINEM (1918-1996)

Sonata for Violin and Piano, Op. 11 (1949) [9’12].
Engel Piano Trio: Christos Kanettis (violin); Alfons Kontarsky (piano), with Reinhard Letzko (cello)
Rec. Bayerischer Rundfunk Studio II, Munich, Germany, on February 25th, 26th and 28th, 2002. DDD
GUILD GMCD7261 [73’47]


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Stravinsky’s ballet, Le baiser de la fée, based on Hans Christian Andersen, was premièred in Paris in 1928. It was Stravinsky’s tribute to Tchaikovsky. Four years later, in 1932, violinist Samuel Dushkin collaborated with Stravinsky to produce this arrangement for violin and piano. The Divertimento is not an easy piece, and it is a tribute to Salonican violinist Christos Kanettis and his accompanist, Alfons Kontarsky (half of the famous piano duo), that it comes up fresh as a daisy in this account. Kanettis is agile and in tune in the opening ‘Sinfonia’, displaying a sonorous low register. There is a very Stravinskian dryness to the ‘Danses suisses’, and the feather-light accompaniment to the Pas de deux’s Adagio is most welcome. The Coda is almost slapstick. This is a very promising start to this recital disc.

Austrian composer, Paul Engel studied with Wilhelm Killmayer. His music has previously been featured on Guild. His Te deum appears on GMCD7245. In Sonogramm I, he draws inspiration from the chamber works of great Viennese masters of the 18th century, but has a strong personality of his own. Starting from a distinctly Beethoven-flavoured beginning of resolute chords, a gradual tempo acceleration works in tandem with more and more progressive language as the piece blossoms into a statement in its own right in a clear twentieth-century idiom. Nevertheless, it is always approachable. Both players rise to the many challenges in the most musical ways.

Engel’s Piano Trio No. 5, titled, ‘Calliope’s descent from Olympus’, is even more impressive. As the composer states, ‘In view of the terribly hectic pace of modern life it seems to me timely to look again at ancient mythology …’. Certainly the glassy stasis of the opening evokes an other-wordly atmosphere. The piece wears its 25 minute duration well, chiefly because of Engel’s fluent textural imagination (in particular, there is a compelling motoric section ). It has to be said that the composer’s own programme, centring on Calliope, seems a trifle superfluous, however. All three players (cellist Reinhard Latzko joining the duo) give their all.

The two Engel pieces enclose a performance of Gottfried von Einem’s three-movement Violin Sonata, Op. 11 of 1949. Einem was a pupil of Boris Blacher, and four of his operas are to libretti by his teacher. The Violin Sonata abounds with jazzy rhythms along with a more astringent streak analagous to some Stravinsky. It is a brief piece, but within its brevity lies much concentration, particularly in the Larghetto middle movement..

The programming of this disc is remarkably thought-provoking and intelligent. Marc Rochester’s notes are unfailingly informative, and the Bavarian Radio recording is perfectly acceptable. Warmly recommended.

Colin Clarke

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