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Clémence de GRANDVAL (1828Ė1907)
1. Concerto for oboe and orchestra (1878) [16.54]
2. Lamento for oboe and strings [4.14]
3. Scherzo for oboe and strings [4.10]
4. Romance for oboe, violoncello and strings [3.51]
5. Gavotte for oboe, violoncello and strings [3.08]
6. Trio de Salon [8.14]
7. Noel [5.47]
8. Aux Quatre Morceaux (excerpts) [7.01]
Lajos Lencses (oboe, cor anglais)
Ansgar Schneider (cello) (4,5); Ulrike Sonntag (soprano) (7); Libor Sima (bassoon) (6); Francois Killian (piano) (6-8); Budapest Strings (2,3)
Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart des SWR/Andrey Boreyko (1,4,5)
rec. 16 June 2005, Stadthalle Sindelfingen (Concerto); 12-14 June 2006, Studio Karlsruhe (works with String Orchestra), SWR Stuttgart, Kammermusikstudio
HńNSSLER CLASSICS CD 98.295 [54.09]

Clemence de Grandval is not a well known name now. However in 19th century Paris she was a person and composer of stature. Born Marie de Reiset her family were wealthy and the composer Friedrich Flotow was a family friend. Flotow gave her composition lessons and she had piano lessons from Chopin. Flotow left Paris before she finished her musical training. She married the Vicomte de Grandval and went on to study for two years with Saint-SaŽns. He remained a friend and the dedications of her major works are testimony to her wide musical circle.
Her works were esteemed during her lifetime and she garnered both performances and favourable reviews. She wrote five operas and a number of other major works. In 1878 she wrote an oboe concerto for the brilliant oboist Georges Gillet. At its premiere the work was conducted by Edouard Colonne, then Gillet and Saint-SaŽns went on to tour the work around Eastern Europe.
The concerto became a familiar examination piece at the Paris Conservatoire, in its oboe and piano form. But despite this popularity the orchestral score seems to have disappeared. In order for the concerto to appear on this disc, oboist Lajos Lencses has produced a new orchestration. In fact he has also orchestrated some of her smaller pieces, creating charming miniatures for oboe and strings.
The oboe was not a characteristically Romantic instrument. A disc called the ĎRomantic Oboeí would have to dig quite deeply to produce any major works written for the instrument. It is not clear why de Grandval wrote so much for oboe, but apart from the Concerto the pieces are more like salon music, though of a most superior stamp. Perhaps de Grandvalís friendship with Gillet helped to generate the works.
Lencsesís orchestration of the concerto is effective and helps give the work life, though I did wonder whether he had been a little conservative. The orchestral effect can be a little face-less at times, though it is obvious that de Grandval is taking care not to obscure the oboe in the tuttis. The work is in three movements and requires an oboist who can cope with its brilliance and its charm. Lencses does both, but the tone of his instrument would seem to be more suitable for Classical rather than Romantic music, though this is a rather small quibble.
Whilst the concerto is effective and shows off the talents of the oboist, I felt that the smaller pieces were more successful. Obviously, given that she wrote operas and large-scale works, de Grandval was capable of much but in these salon pieces she seems to relax and create a charmingly sunny atmosphere.
Lencses has created two pairs of pieces with string accompaniment. Thereís a Lamento and a Scherzo for oboe and strings, then a Romance and a Gavotte for oboe, cello and strings. It was in the Romance and Gavotte, where Lencsesís oboe duets with the cello of Ansgar Schneider that the warmth and delight of de Grandvalís talent really shines through.
The remaining pieces on the disc remain in their original salon format: a two movement trio for oboe, bassoon and piano, a song, Noel, for soprano, oboe and piano and finally two movements for cor anglais and piano.
In the trio and the song de Grandval seems to work well when she creates textures from the oboe and other soloists. Here Lencses is well supported by the bassoon of Libor Sima and piano of Francois Killian.
Lencses does sterling work on the disc, both in terms of the orchestration and playing the brilliant oboe part. He deserves much credit for reviving de Grandvalís work.
Inevitably this disc will be essential listening for oboists, but these are charming pieces, so the disc is well worth searching out especially if you are interested in the musical life in Paris in the 19th century.
Robert Hugill


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