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Paul Le FLEM (1881-1984)
Piano Quintet (1905) [36:40]
Violin Sonata (1905) [28:57]
Philippe Koch (violin)
Alain Jacquon (piano)
Quatuor Louvigny
rec. Villa Louvigny, Luxembourg, Nov 2003-Jan 2004. DDD
TIMPANI 1C1077 [65:37]


This is intensely romantic music. The Quintet is saturated with yearning melodic content in which a dramatic melos and an impressionistic texture warmly vie with each other. You need to think in terms of the Ravel String Quartet, the Bax Piano Quintet, the chamber works of Max díOllonne and the Howell's Piano Quartet. If you already love one or more of these works then go straight out and acquire this now. You will not be disappointed. The music is soaked with the dazzle of the Breton sun, the mystery of the Celtic stone circles and the green rumble and crash of the sea. In the finale there is a tougher presence, thuddingly close in its visceral punch, to Bartók but then resolving into a bustling tumult of sunny ecstasy. Outstanding. Glorious!

From the same year comes the Violin Sonata. It is dedicated to the composerís parents. Remember that at the age of twelve he had been orphaned. Music and solitude along the strand, among the Breton dunes and sandy heathland were his consolation - his life. The Sonata links with Rootham's Violin Sonata, the Delius sonatas especially the Cello Sonata, the Howells sonatas - or at least the first two, the Ireland Second Sonata and Dunhillís Second. The themes have a soaked exalted mien, a long-breathed line and a Celtic curve. Listen to the piano dappled ostinato at 2.12 in the lento as the violin sings out its heart above the lapping waves. The determined chatter of the vif links with various folk-based works such as the Violin Concertos by Janis Ivanovs and E. J. Moeran. Delius is also a presence. Only the final few pages seem diminutive in spirit beside so much that is great-hearted.

After distinguishing himself at the Brest Naval Academy he went on to the Sorbonne and then at Conservatoire studied with Widor (1899). The present two works come from a specific stage in his development and his later symphonies from 1956, 1970 and 1975 proclaim new directions.

This disc is dedicated to Michel Fleury who has done so much to promote the disregarded generation of French composers and whose wide frame of cultural reference has made provocative and fruitful links between literature and the music of the non-Gallic nations. He has pointed up notable connections with Bax, Holbrooke, Marx and others. Michel writes with the authority and flair of the late Christopher Palmer and his notes grace this release.

The surging romance of this music will attract those already won around to the music of Ropartz, Howells, Cras, Lazzari, Bax and díOllonne. Would that Timpani would next record Ropartz's Fourth and Fifth Symphonies and Le Flem's two major Breton tone poems Les Voix du Large (1911) and Pour les Morts (1913).

Another winner for Timpani. Outstanding. Glorious!

Rob Barnett

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