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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

Maurice OHANA (1914-1992)
Le clavecin

Miroir de Célestine (1990) - first recording
Deux Pièces pour Clavecin (1982)
So Tango (1991) - first recording
Sacral d'Ilx (1976)
Carillons (1960)
Tiento (1955)
Sarabande (1950)
Elisabeth Chojnacka, harpsichord
Béatrice Daudin, percussion
Fabrice Mélinon, oboe
Miklós Nagy, French horn
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Arturo Tamayo
Recorded at the Conservatoire, Luxembourg, March and May 2002.
TIMPANI 1C1069 [61.37]
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Listening to this excellent disc, I perceived various threads coming together: the first being the very great impact the Timpani label has had since it appeared on the scene (Rob Barnett has already written a very perceptive résumé on this subject). Their catalogue has featured many world premieres and a, personally speaking, unforgettable introduction to the remarkable music of Lili Boulanger (1C1046). Secondly, I thought of the extraordinary contribution to contemporary harpsichord playing Elisabeth Chojnacka has had in recent years (Poulenc, Gorecki etc.). Finally, but not in any smaller measure, they have contributed invaluably to the very skimpy knowledge I previously held of Maurice Ohana and his music. Moroccan by birth, Spanish by parentage and French by artistic inclination (although Harry Halbreich's comprehensive notes are, with some justification, entitled The Iberian Harpsichord!), my only experience of his music was of the Tiento (included here) in its guitar version on one of Julian Bream's superlative RCA discs.

Miroir de Célestine, for harpsichord and percussion, is literally a mirror of music drawn from his opera La Célestine, and is an invigorating listening experience. The Deux Pièces that follow are, unsurprisingly rather more earthy, given their Wamba and Conga appellations. So Tango, a Gardel tribute, likewise follows the dance. Sacral d'Ilx is another matter altogether, a probable masterpiece, inspired by, to quote its composer, "archetypes born of springtime solar rites, of war and the world of wild animals, bearers of death and resurrection….". In it the oboe and horn combine with the ever present harpsichord to create a spare and spectral soundworld which Halbreich correctly describes as "one of the composer's most thoroughly Spanish works", although Rodrigo or Turina would scarcely recognise it as such. Stravinsky might provide a more apt frame of reference.

The remaining works on the disc are of a much earlier provenance, starting with the Carillons for the Hours of Day and Night. Bell sounds were a significant influence on Ohana and this "serious, powerful piece of sober grandeur" makes that explicit. The aforementioned Tiento sounds just as well as in its guitar incarnation and the Sarabande, also inspired by Goya's engravings (what a profound and ongoing musical inspiration that artist provided to composers!), finally introduces the full orchestra to complement Chojnacka's magisterial playing. This piece that draws on the rituals of the Spanish Holy Week. It concludes an interesting and indeed enlightening disc - much more than one for only harpsichord fanatics. Timpani has several more available for those who feel particularly drawn to Ohana as a composer. On this evidence, it wouldn't surprise me if many were.

Neil Horner


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Miroir de Celestine:
Le jardin des delices

Miroir du desir impossible

Miroir des sorts

Jardin de nuit

N'gango

Miroir d'oubli

Deux pieces pour clavecin:
Wamba

Conga

So Tango

Sacral d'Ilx

Carillons pour les heures du jour et de la nuit

Tiento

Sarabande



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