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Jean FRANCAIX (1912-1997) Quintet No. 2 for flute, string trio and harp (1989) [17:06]
Charles BORDES (1863-1909) Suite Basque Op. 6 (world premiere recording) (1887) [22:23]
Vincent D’INDY (1851-1931) Suite en parties for obbligato flute, violin, viola, cello and harp, Op. 91 (1927) [16:14]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937) Voyage au "Pays du Tendre" d’après la Carte du Tendre for flute, violin, viola, cello and harp (1936) [12:05] Andre JOLIVET (1905-1974) Chant de Linos for solo flute, violin, viola, cello and harp (1944) [11:16]
Carlo Jans (flute), Kateřina Englichová (harp)
Martinů Quartet: Lubomír Havlák, Irena Herajnová (violins), Jan Jíša (viola), Jitka Vlašánková (cello)

rec. May, Sept 2007, Domovina Studio, Prague. DDD
ARCO DIVA UP 0104-2 131 [79:35]

Experience Classicsonline

The disc opens with Françaix’s Quintet No. 2. As ever, his music is charming, cheeky even, with amusing quirks. The first movement is marked Allegrissimo, and begins with an entertaining opening flourish. This single short episode is rife with contrast; romantic melodies and rubato are heard in juxtaposition with angular, rhythmically precise lines. The second movement continues in the same manner, with an opening rhythmic drive replaced by a lyrical flute melody. Françaix uses the instruments fairly equally, with solo lines for each of the players creating a wide palette of colours. The Notturno opens with a well controlled quiet melody, more serious in feel that the previous two movements. The final movement, a Rondo, features a simple melody, first heard on the flute and then passed around the other instruments. There is much to admire about Françaix’s writing here; he has a real understanding of orchestration and his neo-classical style is well formed and mature. This piece has the feel of entertaining salon music, with a sense of wit, but just enough poise and elegance to be taken seriously. The performance here is a good one, with high-quality playing from each of the individual members of the ensemble.

Charles Bordes, probably the least well-known of the composers presented here, was a composition student of César Franck, but spent most of his career working as a teacher and musicologist. His Suite Basque was composed as a result of a study of the music of the Basque region. Dedicated to Vincent D’Indy, this has a distinct folk feel to it, with melody lines doubled at the octave contributing to the underlying solemnity of the opening movement. The flute is often used low in its register, giving a particularly dark sound quality. The Intermezzo is an energetic dance, interrupted in the middle by a less complex and slower lilting melody. The simple Paysage conjures up images of the Basque countryside, while the final movement, Pordon Dantza is a strongly rhythmic and moderately paced dance with strong off-beats, which breaks way into an energetic coda over a drone. Although perhaps not compositionally the strongest on the disc, this is an interesting work, which demonstrates the versatility of these players. They capture the essence of the work admirably, with a good sense of balance within the ensemble.

The Suite by d’Indy is a complete contrast, with a return to the French romantic style. There is some lovely flute playing in the Air Désuet, against unusual scoring in the accompaniment. The strong influence of old music can be heard in d’Indy’s writing; the work as a whole is based on Baroque dances, but the harmonic language is distinctly late-romantic. The playing is again well controlled and there are some lovely moments of phrasing and richness of tone.

The work by Pierné feels altogether more flowing and compositionally coherent. There is a strong sense of structure, and prominent parts for the harp and flute, both of which are played with panache. The string writing is more unified than d’Indy’s, allowing for greater richness of sonority. This is a charming work, which is formed of several short movements, allowing the character to be changed enough throughout its 12 minute duration to maintain interest. There are some virtuoso moments which are handled well by the ensemble, and some beautifully phrased solos, including an extended duo for cello and harp [6:36].

The disc ends with Jolivet’s Chant de Linos, heard in its original version with strings and harp. The work has an orchestral feel in this combination, with the accompaniment perhaps more prominent and certainly more colourful than in the version with piano. The dramatic moments come to life with an array of sounds, while the slow, haunting melodies are sensitively played. There is a drive and energy in the faster sections, although the accompanying parts do not always follow the same articulations as the solo line, which can be distracting at times. The flute part is always convincingly played, and this performance has strength and passion from all of its performers.

Carla Rees





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