Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Henri COLLET (1885-1951)
Volume 1

Cantos de España: Cinco Canciones Populares Castellanas op. 69 (1923); Siete Canciones Populares de Burgos Op. 80; Cantos de Castilla Op. 42 sets I and II; Poema de un Día Op. 48; La Pena; Los Amantes de Galicia (1942)
Rachel Yakar (sop)
Claude Lavoix (piano)
Volume 2

Concerto Flamenco for violin and orchestra (1946) [23.22]
Symphonie de l'Alhambra for orchestra (1947) [18.29]
Concerto Flamenco for piano and orchestra (1946) [24.21]
Régis Pasquier (violin)
Ricardo Requejo (piano)
Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla/Gary Brain
rec. Sala Apolo, Seville, 7-11 July 1997 (orchestral); Théâtre de Poissy, Paris, 30 Nov-2 Dec 1994 (songs). DDD
also available separately as Claves CD 50-9506 and CD 50-9801
CLAVES CD2100/2 [56.33+66.48]


Bonnet and Spain - a case of love at first sight. Bonnet, born in 1885, began his donkey-back wanderings (à la Stevenson) in Spain at the age of eighteen. He collected folksongs and impressed Felipe Pedrell and Don Federico Olmeda sufficiently for them to support his appointment as professor at the Casa Velasquez. Compositions, both original and folk arrangements emerged. De Falla praised them highly indeed especially the songs.

There are forty songs on the first disc all taken by Rachel Yakar who has one of those darker-aureoled soprano voices that well suits this repertoire. There is plenty of character here and Yakar is the one to bring it out. Scorn, eagerness, sweetness (try Religiosa tr 3) brazen it out with Cubana’s haughtiness and we cross over into Canteloube territory in Bolero (tr 4). The Burgos songs are more subtle including the sensuous Cancion de Novia (tr 7) with its call Lindamente canta. The Cantos de Castilla are not at all impressionistic - more a case of high romance with a measure less subtlety than Granados's Goyescas. These songs have a high-stepping cavalry vigour as well as speaking of the idle relaxation of the salon. Brashness barks the shins of raindrop romance. Collet is a heart-on-sleeve man - never satirising - always in sympathy with his subject.

Collet's orchestral works are sumptuously sampled on the second volume. It will be clear from the timing and apparent from the brevity of the songs that Collet is not prone to meandering. These are compact three movement concertos neither of which runs more than 25 minutes. The symphony is in four movements. Every one of the movements carries a Spanish title descriptive of dance (e.g. Fandango - the last movement of the piano concerto) or place (Calles de Sebiya - first movement of the violin concerto).

While the melodic line of the violin concerto apes Bruch and maybe Saint-Säens’ Caprice Andalou the setting is all shimmer with searing Iberian trumpets. Havanaise meets the Elgar in the broad El Desgraciado. The Sevillana finale is a blast of spiccato and Paganinian double-stopping accelerating into feria style bombast. The castanets, also used in the first movement, return at the end. The high calorie symphony has four movements against the three for the two concertos. The hyper-coloured music has the modern sensibility of travelogue film music. The Piano Concerto offers the listener scorching trumpet lines, castanets and ripe Mediterranean hallmarks. It would go well, as would all three orchestral works, in a concert with a Spanish theme. These are not profound works. Rather we are in the world of distinctive light music like Ron Goodwin’s Beatles Concerto or any one of the cadre of works that also includes Malcolm Arnold’s Concerto for Phyllis and Cyril.

The booklet for the songs disc has the words printed in Spanish (as sung) and in French although not side by side. The extensive notes are in French, Spanish, German and English.

These recordings have been languishing largely unattended since 1995 and 1998. I have been pleased to make the acquaintance of this finely performed music. Here is another splendid example of the French feeling for Iberian culture in music. Collet is more than the music critic who in 1920 (Comoedia 16 and 23 Jan 1929) dubbed a group of Parisian based composers 'Les Six'.

Collet is no dazzling genius but he writes music that is highly skilled and easy on the ear even if his ideas that are not grippingly memorable. The orchestral works will neither enrage nor enrapture. Pleasing, romantic and unassuming.

Rob Barnett

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