is a very attractively produced disc. It sports a scene close
to the hearts of antiquarian collectors – a youth holding out
a Phonotipia 78 at an inviting angle – and its brief is to mix
established French masters of the period with younger colleagues.
Thus Clair de Lune is here and so are Milhaud’s Trois
Rag-Caprices and Gymnopédie
No. 1 nestles close to Boulanger’s Cortège. The ostensible
peg then is Art Nouveau but one should more properly, I suppose,
see this as an enthusiastic recital of French music from the
last decade or so of the nineteenth century up to approximately
the end of the first quarter of the twentieth.
most entertaining – and useful – of the selection centres around
the lesser-known pieces. As well as canonical Satie we have
Le Piccadilly, an eyebrow-raising example of early metropolitan
ragtime against which we can measure Milhaud’s examples which
are more than somewhat saturated in Brazilian sunshine; the
first is tumultuous, the second shares something of Gershwin’s
sensibility and the third gets lusty. Though the Debussy and
Ravel are pleasingly done there is more mileage in uncovering
Boulanger. At twenty-one her harmonic sense was palpably advanced
though it’s equally attractive to hear how she could unclutter
that density in Cortège which is freer and less impressionistically
brooding than it may sound.
good to find Tailleferre here – routinely mocked these days
I find – and her Romance, written at the same time as
Boulanger’s works, ploughs a different field altogether; clean
and lyric. We end with more Heirs of the traditions – Poulenc
and Ibert – and though her Poulenc is not stellar I like the
way Cristina Ariagno draws out Ibert’s lively Le petit âne
blanc. Notes are brief but attractively laid out and the
recording level is only a touch plummy – otherwise all is well.