Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

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Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1892-1983)

Piano Trio (1916-17 – 1978)
Calme sans Lenteur (1917)
Violin Sonata No 1 (1921)
Violin Sonata No 2 (Concerto1936 rev Sonata 1946)
Sonatine for Violin and Piano (1946)
Berceuse for Violin and Piano (1913)
Adagio for Violin and Piano (1924)
Pastorale for Violin and Piano (1942)
Cristina Ariagno, piano
Massimo Marin, violin
Manuel Zigante, cello
Recorded Camponogara, Venezia, November 2000
TIMPANI IC1063 [69.31]


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This disc brings together works for strings and piano written between 1913 and 1978 by Germaine Tailleferre. What is remarkable is the consonance and continuity of technique and expression between the two extremes, which leads to the reflection that far from "not developing" in the broadest most concentrated sense Tailleferre grew to simplify her style but not to divert from its essential core. Returning, for example, sixty years later to the Trio she had written in 1917 she remains imaginatively the same composer when she added two movements to it, movements both sympathetic to and enriching of the originals. Write Tailleferre off at your peril.

That Trio, composed between 1916 and 1917, opens in the Gallic hot house with an Allegro animato of richness and density. The subsequently composed Allegro vivace (from 1978) is animated and stomping with a vein of wit and a slight antique air in the aloofly Ravelian mode whilst the third movement Moderato dates from 1917 and is brief and slight. The finale opens harmoniously before gathering some momentum - a strong work from 1978. As a pendant the original 1917 second movement is presented; fleeting like gauze, flickering but securely anchored by the cello you will reach for the usual suspects of influence but I found it a subtle movement well deserving its disinterment. At 5’38 it would formally and structurally, I suppose, be said to unbalance the Trio, which in this composite form lasts only 13 and a half minutes. Nevertheless a slice of the muslin Tailleferre.

Her two violin sonatas have been recorded a number of times before – Renata Eggebrecht and Gassenhuber most recently on Troubadisc TRO-CD 0406, also fearless champions of Ethel Smyth, but also by Ehrlich and Eckert on Cambria; the Second Sonata has also been recorded by Arnold Steinhardt and by Roche and Fried on Vox. The First Sonata of 1921 opens sunnily but a rather more pensive and inward second subject steals in darkening the mood. The Sonata was written for and dedicated to Jacques Thibaud and he premiered it with Cortot in June 1922. The work clearly also carries within it an autobiographical charge because of the relationship between violinist – a suave womaniser – and composer. The rhythmically amusing piano writing of the second movement scherzo runs beneath a lyrical violin line, some teasing little battles between the two lending a flirtatious air to the movement whilst the slow movement is dominated by the piano initially before the violin, musing reflectedly at first begins a more passionate series of episodes. In the finale there is more of a sense of consonance and solidarity between violin and piano until the closing moments with a long held note from the violin and the piano’s strange unsettledness beneath until, just in time, the violin perks up, the piano with it, for a little dance tune to end the work.

The Second Sonata was derived from the Violin Concerto of 1936, which was premiered by Yvonne Astruc and Pierre Monteux. Milhaud liked it and was a known admirer of the violinist who had also premiered his own work. Tailleferre revised the Concerto for violin and piano for performance in 1946 and it was subsequently performed by Jeanne Gautier – the notes anglicise her name as Jane – and Tailleferre herself in 1951. Delightfully full of fresh air and uncomplicated the first movement is avuncular and openhearted and the finale charmingly motoric with room for quick light trills from violinist Massimo Zigante. The Sonatine equally has a joyful freshness tinged with moments of reserve, a light breeze of a work. Elsewhere the early Berceuse shows her indebtedness to Fauré; the Adagio is a transcription of her Piano Concerto – an affectionately serious movement. The Pastorale is a rocking, romantic work with an unexpectedly late Romantic profile.

Idiomatic and understanding these performances do Tailleferre proud. They catch something of her elfin pleasure and also a touching reserve. It’s not surely necessary now to liberate her from the constrictive notoriety of membership of Les Six; on her own terms she was a lyricist and romantic, inheritor of Fauré’s gift for melody but tinged by her modernist inclinations, and here a composer of still treasurable generosity.

Jonathan Woolf


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