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Cécile CHAMINADE (1857-1944)
Arlequine Op. 53 [3:01]
Pièce romantique Op. 7 No. 1 [2:42]
Chanson bretonne, (No. 5 of Romances sans paroles Op. 76) [2:09]
Divertissement Op. 105 [2:16]
Consolation, (No. 5 of Pièces humoristiques Op. 87) [4:50]
Passacaille Op. 130 [3:14]
Nocturne Op. 165 [4:37]
Scherzo-valse Op. 148 (d’après Op. 126 No. 6) [2:49]
Sous bois (No. 2 of Pièces Humoristiques Op. 87) [3:13]
Étude symphonique Op. 28 [5:24]
Élégie Op 98 (Feuillets d’album No. 3) [3:04]
Gigue Op. 43 [3:31]
Au pays dévasté Op. 155 [6:31]
Pastorale Op. 114 [4:49]
Libellules Op. 24 [2:19]
Valse tendre Op. 119 [3:46]
Tristesse Op. 104 [3:55]
Impromptu (No. 5 of Études de concert Op. 35) [3:51]
Tarantelle (No. 6 of Études de concert Op. 35) [4:35]
Peter Jacobs (piano)
rec. 3-4 November 1993, All Saints, Durham Road, East Finchley, London. DDD
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This re-release of the second volume of Cécile Chaminade’s piano music is a welcome addition to Hyperion’s Helios budget label. Following her death in 1944, she has been widely ignored as a composer; however, in her lifetime she was well-known. This compilation contains mostly salon music piano miniatures, and reveals her to be not only a master of the art, but also capable of much more than the sentimentality and mere empty gestures with which this category of music is all too often associated. It should not be forgotten that there is also a good deal more to Chaminade’s output than domestic piano music, with a total of around 350 works spanning a number of genres.

The most striking aspect of this music is the depth of its imagination – there is a broad range of mood and styles, which here have been ordered appropriately to provide ample variation and balance between tracks. Sound techniques of harmony and a keen lyricism go hand-in-hand with the constantly successful and pleasing domestic style. Naturally there is much about the works presented here that is pleasurable on the surface. However the quality of writing and general craftsmanship behind the majority of these works display a skill that should not be so readily overlooked.

A number of influences are apparent. A strong Romantic element is in evidence throughout. This is often joined by delicate Impressionist characteristics, which enhance the reflective aspects. Of the 19 short works on this disc, Au pays dévasté - the longest track on this disc by over a minute at 6:31 - provides perhaps the greatest insight into this composer. It was written shortly after the conclusion of the First World War and is potently evocative and heartfelt with a deeply melancholy quality. In contrast a playful mood is attained in Libellules and the opening Arlequine, while a gently luminous Impressionist tranquillity is found in Consolation, Nocturne and Élégie.

Clean, rhythmic and eminently musical playing from Peter Jacobs is thoroughly enhanced by a warm and full piano sound that captures every nuance. Informative and revealing booklet notes are provided by Calum McDonald, rounding off a thoroughly recommended release. Along with its companion volumes this disc bears repeated listening.

Adam Binks



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