David LAMPEL (b.1959)
String Quartet (2002) [10:31]
Piano Sonata [6:24]
String Sextet (2002) [10:01]
Violin Sonata (2005) [9:24]
Prelude and Chaconne, Homage to Bach (2005) [8:19]
Parissi Quartet (Arnaud Vallin,
Jean-Michel Berette (violin), Dominique Lobet (viola) and Jean-Philippe Martignioni
(cello)), Sébastien Risler (piano),
Uppsala Chamber Soloists, Régis Pasquier (violin), Emmanuel Strosser (piano),
Henri Demarquette (cello)
rec. October 2005, Ivry Auditorium (Quartet), December 2005 and March 2006, Studio
de Meudon (Violin Sonata and Piano Sonata), December 2004, Giresta Church Sweden
(Sextet), February 2006, L'église du bon secours, Paris (Prelude and Chaconne).
DDD NAXOS 8.572106 [47:56]
David Lampel is a young Swedish composer who writes in a straightforward,
tonal style, which encompasses tunes and accepted harmonic progressions.
And there, in one sentence, is the whole problem with the music
on this disk. There is nothing here to set Lake Mälaren
It is only fair that I explain. This music is lovely, in the
same way that Ravel’s music is lovely, for it contains
luscious harmonies, satisfactory and satisfying chord progressions
and tunes which are quite memorable. However, it is not in the
same class as Ravel’s music and, when put side by side
with such an influence, I am sorry to say that Lampel’s
music is found wanting. The String Quartet starts most
arrestingly, but almost totally derivatively, and it fills its
ten minutes quite nicely, even if there isn’t sufficient
material to really engage ones attention for the alloted timespan.
The Piano Sonata, however, is a different matter, for
it is, according to the composer, “… a game of hide
and seek with the classical form, a game which I play in all
the works on the disc”. Playing games with forms, and thus
with our perceptions of form, is all well and good, but a musical
composition stands or falls, initially, by its material not by
what the composer does with it. Therefore, this somewhat grey
and overly sombre affair does not work due to the material being
too easily forgettable and there being little of substance to
hold the interest.
The String Sextet pays homage to Verklärte Nacht and,
again, has a corrupted classical form. Here the voice is of fin
de siècle Vienna, and, in a blindfold test, you’d
be hard pushed to guess that this work wasn’t an original
from that period rather than something which feels rather like
a pastiche from a century later. Certainly Lampel has the right
feel for this language, but not for convincing material nor the
working out of it.
The Violin Sonata has much more in its favour for it is
a gritty and powerful work, demanding much from both player and
listener. It is pleasantly devoid of overt outside influence.
It reminds me of a couple of pieces but I doubt that Lampel would
ever have heard the works I have in mind - Douglas Lilburn’s
superb Violin Sonata, for instance. Most impressive is
the march which accounts for much of the development in the piece.
The ending is magnificently surprising.
The Prelude and Chaconne, Homage to Bach for solo cello,
is surprisingly well written and has much to commend it. This
is an intelligently conceived and cogently argued, solo line
which never outstays its welcome - an easy thing to do when writing
for a solo stringed instrument. It actually leaves one wanting
All the performances are, I am sure, of the highest quality,
for there is a feeling of strong advocacy in the playing. The
recordings, which derive from several different sources, are
uniformly clear and bright. If only I could say that all the
music here was worth the effort but I really don’t feel
that it is. The last two pieces are well worth investigating.
The first three seem negligible for the composer is playing games
and not composing music. But you pays your money and you takes
your chance. I’d hate you to miss the Violin Sonata but
is it worth paying the full price just for this one work? With
my hand on my heart I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this disk
for the reasons cited.
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