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André JOLIVET (1905-1974)
Music for Wind Band
Fanfares pour Britannicus (1946) [12:47]
Trumpet Concerto No. 2 (1954) [13:57]
Soir et Défilé (1936) [8:39]
Suite Transocéane (transcription: Désiré Dondeyne) (1955) [24:12]
Clément Saunier (trumpet)
Orchestre d'Harmonie des Gardiens de la Paix de la Préfecture de Police de Paris/Philippe Ferro
rec. Oct 2004, Apr 2005. DDD
MAGUELONE MAG 111.164 [60:01]


We are still reaping the harvest of Jolivet's centenary last year. This disc represents an intriguing outlier to the main fleuve of the crop. It's a collection of previously unrecorded works for wind-bands of various specifications.

The first piece is a succession of fanfares but has more musical coherence and substance than you might have expected. The six pieces comprise a Prelude and Postlude framing four pieces bearing the names of characters from Racine's Britannicus. Jolivet arrogates to himself some room for characterisation. So the misguided and toadying Narcisse is portrayed through a weak and sleazily flashy trumpet solo. Much of this music is otherwise shot through with scathing tragedy staying away from the extremes of dissonance but adding grinding harmonic collisions for savour and atmosphere. The storyline has the brother Nero and Britannicus competing for power until Nero poisons Britannicus and Julia at a feast given to celebrate their marriage. The music is for four trumpets, four horns, four trombones, tuba, timps and two percussion.

The Second Trumpet Concerto made its way in the world under the blessing of Maurice André who took the concerto across the world. It followed the First Trumpet Concerto by six years. The orchestra comprises solo trumpet in C, two flutes, b flat clarinet, cor anglais, alto and tenor saxes, contrabassoon, percussion (bass drum, chinese cymbal, tom-tom), harp, piano and bass. Essentially it's a marriage of jazz ensemble and windband. The jazz strand is pretty much to the fore, mixed with the street rhythms of Rio à la Milhaud and Villa-Lobos. The jazz acccent is brought out by the soloist using wa-wa and the percussionist uses metallic brushes for the drums. After the street energy of the Mesto the gentle lonely Grave has subtly melancholic soliloquising from the solo. It's irresistible music irresistibly played by Saunier. Street cars and bustle return at first slowly in the Giocoso and then with growing and growling force. The music picks up that rasping Lambert and Stravinsky edginess made all the more tart by jarring salvoes from the percussion desks. This last movement is the weakest - it suffers from a sense of having stopped rather than having reached a logical conclusion.

The Soir et Défilé are two of the Trois Croquis written for piano in 1932 and laid out for windband by the composer in 1936. Soir is painted in subdued and brooding colours comparable with the satiated tone of Bax's symphonic epilogues. The Défilé is a subtly touched-in march presented in a cloud of fragments almost imperceptibly coalescing into a powerful statement that has the underlying indomitable tread of Havergal Brian and of Percy Grainger's windband music.

The final four-movement piece is the Suite Transocéane (1955). It's a transcription by Désiré Dondeyne of a piece written in 1955 for orchestra with saxophone and piano. In that form it was premiered in September 1955 by the Louisville Orchestra. The ripe jazziness and gamin cheeriness can be related to Milhaud's Le Boeuf sur le Toit as well as his South American pieces. The other voices to be heard include wild and woolly Broadway, street carnival, Stravinskian tension (as in the Rite of Spring) and ominous nocturnal marching. Contrary to expectations this is the most subtle of all the four pieces here. The finale is a towering crescendo, lurching and swaying forward and rising into a volcanic landscape yawning and explosive. Massive tectonic plates collide, bruise and fragment. 

The essential liner note is by Emmanuel Hondré and there's also a reminiscence of Jolivet by that doyen of the French windband genre, Désiré Dondeyne. The notes are in French and English.

This is a desirable collection that is worth tracking down. It's handled in the UK by Discovery. The music is a fascinating retrieval and opens a largely unsuspected window onto Jolivet's musical legacy. Let's have more.

Until then, do get this disc. It's full of music you are unlikely to have heard and the Paris Gendaremerie band acquit themselves with both brazen brilliance and subtle poetry.

By the way, Maguelone are issuing Jolivet's complete piano music edition on MAG 111.136, 111.137 and 111.138 (see review of first two discs).

Rob Barnett







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