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Gréco CASADESUS (b. 1951) Suppléments d'Âme for soprano, string quartet and double-bass (2008) [11:49]
Pierre-André ATHANÉ (b. 1950) String Quartet No. 1 (2007) [17:19]
Baudime JAM (b. 1972) Les Horizons perdus for mezzo and string quartet (2007) [36:51]
Hermine Huguenel (mezzo); Lys Nordet (soprano); Daniel Grimonprez (double-bass); Prima Vista Quartet (Elzbieta Gladys (violin 1); Carine le Calvez (violin 2); Baudime Jam (viola); Gwendeline Lumaret (cello))
rec. Clermont-Ferrand, 13-16 February 2009. DDD
full track-list below
OPUS MILLÉSIME GCK 20091 [62:10]
Experience Classicsonline



Here are two song-cycles and one string quartet from younger generations of French composers whose instincts are connected to Mélodie.

The three songs that make up Casadesus's Suppléments d'Âme are, tuneful, incantatory and emotionally volatile. They have about them something of a spell and something of a somnambulatory scena. The tinder really catches flame in the Trois tentatives - the last song - with Lys Nordet's operatic voice unleashed with uncommon ardour and conflagration.

For eight years, from age 22, Casadesus who grew up in Montmartre in what I take to be the great musical family was an artistic director of EMI Pathé-Marconi working with two generations of young and commanding French executant artists. At age 30 he turned to composition alone and made his way through work for French cinema and theatre. More about him at www.casadesus.com.

Sandwiched between two chamber song-cycles comes Athané's String Quartet No. 1 - a melodically aspirational work of singing passionate intensity. It leans heavily on the long cantabile line and is most luminously lofted. Angers-born Athané has made a considerable name for himself in the worlds of French stage, radio and cinema. His inspiration is, on this evidence, strongly and appealingly rooted in the example of Fauré. If Casadesus's name was made strongly by his major score for the 1921 silent by Henri Diamant-Berger's Three Musketeers, French audiences may well know of Athané through the French TV series 'Thalassa - The Colours of the Sea'. If you enjoy surging melodic early Fauré then this is a quartet you need to hear. After two movements of singing seduction the final movement is just a shade more acerbic. It links with material from the earlier movements. www.pa-athane.com.

Baudine Jam is wonderfully in touch with the melancholy ecstasy of Poulenc. Add to this an infusion of Duparc here and a dusting of Chausson there. His soprano is Hermine Huguenel. She too, rather like Nordet in the Casadesus, has tinder and kindling in her voice sufficient that it smokes and flames. The writing is more varied in surface than the Athané. Its long lines seethe with concentration and passion. At 35 minutes this is an epic work. It demands all of your attention and is very satisfying. The dreamy waywardness of Sous la lune argentée is memorably eerie. La ronce des regrets shows determination and rough spirit at first yet then relaxes into the woodland wandering of the previous song. Violin tendrils that reach out imploringly and seductively from the last song A la fontaine des amants. Over all hangs a nostalgic and poignant melancholy that would have delighted Bernard Herrmann hasd been around to hear this. Jam has created and sustained a world of hooded eyes and muted passion - the surreal dreams of Warlock's Curlew and Schoenberg's Pierrot Lunaire.

Jam has been active as a producer with Radio France. His biography of George Onslow (564 pages ISBN: 2-9520076-0-8) has been well received. He is also responsible for the first full critical edition of the George Onslow's 36 string quartets. The violist of the Prima Vista he has also been busy writing scores for silent films and concert works. 
There are notes with this CD in French and English and all the words are printed in the sung French but without translation into English.

The Prima Vista are warm in tone and warmly recorded; a pity about the audible breathiness of one of the players. Small price to pay for such a honeyed melos with engaging ebb and flow. They have been very active in Clermont-Ferrand and beyond in the promotion of the music of George Onslow. A fixture at "Les Soirées Onslow" festivals they tour the various castles of Auvergne in August each year. 
Three living composers in three scores that owe more to early twentieth century mulch than to the clever twenties or the wilder Boulezian extremes. I would be interested in hearing more of their work and hope that further CDs will appear.

Rob Barnett



Gréco CASADESUS (b. 1951) Suppléments d'âme for soprano and string quintet (2008)
1. Le second souffle (3'30)
2. Lumières cardioïdes (4'30)
3. Trois tentatives pour trouver la source (3'49)
Pierre-André ATHANÉ (b.1950) String Quartet n°1 (2007)
4. Pour la cime des arbres (5'47)
5. Pour chaque jour qui passe (6'24)
6. Pour le ballet des ombres (5'08)
Baudime JAM (b.1972) Les Horizons perdus for mezzo-soprano and string quartet (2007) (poems : B. Jam)
7. Miracles fugitifs (5'03)
8. Le verger mystérieux (4'53)
9. Sous la lune argentée (8'15)
10. La ronce des regrets (6'09)
11. À la fontaine des amants (8'36)

 
 


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