Two Rhapsodies for oboe, viola and piano [20:19]
Five Songs for voice, viola and piano [15:19]
Gabriel PIERNÉ (1863-1937)
Sonata da Camera, Op. 48 for flute, cello and piano [13:45]
Maurice DURUFLÉ (1902-1986)
Prelude, recitative and variations, Op. 3 for flute, viola and piano
[11:58] (first recording)
William Dazeley (baritone); London Concord Ensemble (Emily Pailthorpe
(oboe), Daniel Pailthorpe (flute), Barnaby Robson (clarinet), Nicholas
Korth (horn), Julian Milford (piano), Douglas Paterson (viola),
Bridget MacRae (cello))
rec. Music Room, Champs Hill, West Sussex, 28-29 September 2001;
21 February 2002 and 26 February 2002.
CHAMPS HILL CHRCD010 [61:31]
There must have been some musical microbe in the French
water supply from the 1860s through the turn of the century
for France to have produced so many fine and original composers.
The obvious big shots are Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, and
Saint-Saëns. But France kept delivering outstanding composers
all the way into the early decades of the twentieth century,
and it is rather sad that their music is not more widely known,
for it is of the highest quality. The London Concord Ensemble
with guest baritone William Dazeley have given us an absolutely
delicious hour of chamber music in these finely honed performances.
Gabriel Pierné’s elegant Sonata da Camera opens
with a contrapuntal prelude that would have made Sebastian Bach
proud. This jauntily tuneful opening is followed by a melancholy
sarabande, so beautiful that it transports the listener into
a dream-world from which he’d never want to awaken. The
spirited finale is delivered with great panache. Daniel Pailthorpe,
Bridget MacRae and Julian Milford deliver a flawless performance
marked with perfect intonation, balanced ensemble and a virtuosic
flair that’s simply infectious.
Charles Martin Loeffler claimed to be a Frenchman, and his claims
are oft-repeated in reference material. He was however born
near Berlin, but renounced his native land after his father
was imprisoned on a trumped up espionage charge. He later moved
to the U.S. where he played as concert master for the Boston
Symphony Orchestra. A darling of Boston society, he often appeared
as a concerto soloist and in performances of his own works.
His two Rhapsodies for oboe, viola and piano show Loeffler at
his creative best. Sweepingly melodic, it is easy to get lost
in these sometimes dreamy, sometimes turbulent works. Emily
Pailthorpe and Douglas Paterson are well paired and Julian Milford
again delivers a fine foundation for our two single line counterparts.
These works are sublime and they are played with great sensitivity
Loeffler’s Five Songs are settings of poems by Verlaine
and Charles Baudelaire and are connected mainly by a nocturnal
theme. William Dazeley’s amber baritone is well suited
to the music and he makes the wordy French poetry come to life
with careful shading and clarity of diction.
Maurice Duruflé was a composer of tremendous gifts, and
yet he seldom expressed his creativity, leaving behind a numerically
modest output, nearly all of which are masterpieces. This is
the first recording of a very early chamber work, and honestly,
these ears did not find the music up to the same high standard
as the organ works or the nearly perfect Requiem. We get a fine
performance nonetheless, and although it is not a masterpiece,
the Prelude, Recitative and Variations are a pleasant enough
This is one of the most engaging recordings I have come across
this year, and the Pierné sonata and the Loeffler Rhapsody
are well worth the price of admission. The London Concord members
are first rate throughout. There is really next to nothing at
fault in any of the performances. This is most certainly one
of the finest recordings to pass across my desk this year.