Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Paul DUKAS (1865-1935)
Piano Sonata in E flat minor (1900) [33.40]
Variations, Interlude et Finale (1902) [24.02]
Prélude Elégiaque (1908) [4.26]
La Plainte au Loin du faune (1920) [4.41]
Jean Hubeau (piano)
rec Salle Adyar, Paris, Nov 1987
WARNER APEX 0927 48996-2 [70.23]


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This is a companion to Warner's other Dukas budget disc (0927 48725 2) containing the Symphony, La Péri and l'Apprenti Sorcier. Hubeau is a strong player but the impressions gained from hearing this disc (toiling in dark realms or threadbare imagination) made me wonder. Margaret Fingerhut on Chandos makes a better job of the Sonata though Hubeau's graciousness shines through in the second movement. The Sonata is a rather serious demonstrative work. To make it go with utmost success there needs to be a balance between power and fantasy. Of power Hubeau has no lack but the realms of the spirit are seemingly not his natural habitat. The work was dedicated to Saint-Saëns.

This is followed by the Brahmsian heroics of the Variations on a theme of Rameau. These sound rather heavy-handed and antique in a contrived way. Much better is the Prélude Elégiaque which is full of subtle impressionistic delight complete with swirling references to Debussy that do not appear in the Sonata or the Rameau piece. The Prélude was written as a commissioned tribute to Haydn as were like pieces by Debussy, Ravel, Widor and d'Indy. Similarly subtle is La Plainte, a homage to Debussy, alongside other tributes from Malipiero, Satie, Ravel, Bartók, Stravinsky and de Falla. There are clear cross-references with Prélude a l'après-midi d'un faune.

The Sonata is a robust piece of great tensile strength. Hubeau is not ideal in it. On the other hand he is subtle and imaginative in La Plainte and the Prélude. A fascinating disc overall and inexpensive.

Rob Barnett

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