Peter WELFFENS (1924 – 2003) Wandelen met Eva (1988) [16:23]
Joseph JONGEN (1873 – 1953) Rhapsodie Op.70 (1922) [17:35]
Frits CELIS (b. 1929) Tarquinia (2005)a [16:16]
Alain CRAENS (b. 1957) Three Summer Pieces (2008) [19:02]
Hubert Damen (reciter)a; Enamon Ensemble/Raf de Keninck
rec. Academiezaal, Sint-Truiden, Belgium, 1-4 April 2009
PHAEDRA 92062 [69:19]
Peter Welffens’ Wandelen met Eva (“Walking with Eve”) is a suite of five colourful, impressionistic sketches scored for flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano. The music is fairly straightforward and immediately appealing - a good example of Welffens’ mature style. As he put it in a note concerning this piece, “for me, Wandelen met Eva crystallises an emotional past; even more than that, it sublimes what once was”. This is a truly lovely, mildly nostalgic work of great charm.
As its title implies, Jongen’s Rhapsodie Op.70 for piano and wind quintet is a free fantasy moving from one mood to another without notice. It is also one of his sunniest and most enjoyable works that – curiously enough – is still all-too-rarely heard. A slow introduction leads into a series of dance-like episodes among which a Habanera and a somewhat oriental dance. The whole is capped by a light-hearted peasant dance of folk character. A brief coda recalling the introduction is rounded-off by a last flourish. Jongen’s Rhapsodie Op.70 is yet another fine example of this composer’s personal brand of Impressionism and elegant Neo-classicism.
Frits Celis’ Tarquinia for reciter and ensemble of poems by Anton van Wilderode (1918 – 1998) is a rather more serious piece. Anton van Wilderode (pen name of Cyriel Coupé) published quite an amount of poetry between 1943 and 1995. He was a high school teacher of Latin and Greek, so that it is not surprising that he also made translations of Horace and Virgil. His short cycle Tarquinia comprises five short poems, actually travel impressions of famous Etruscan tombs. These poems are reprinted in the insert notes, but the composer does not set them in the order in which they are printed. He re-ordered them to suit his musical aim in order to achieve a coherent musical structure roughly conceived as an arch-form. A dark-hued, mysterious introduction leads to the recitation of Hypnos, de god van de slap (“Hypnos, the god of sleep”). There follows a somewhat more animated section Fluitspeler (“Flute player”). The music, then, becomes still more animated in the next sections Jagers te paard (“Hunters on horseback”) and De gevleugelde paarden (“Winged Horses”). These two sections may be regarded as a scherzo and the dynamic core of the work. A slow interlude then leads into De zwemmer (“The Swimmer”) and the music slowly retraces its way back to the mood of the opening with a varied reprise of the opening poem Hypnos with much word repetition. The music eventually lulls itself calmly into sleep. Although it may be a drawback in terms of performances outside Dutch-speaking countries, the scoring for speaker and ensemble nevertheless allows Van Wilderode’s beautiful poems to be heard and understood. This is a very beautiful work that repays repeated hearings, which is why this recording is most welcome.
The titles of the three movements of Alain Craens’ Three Summer Pieces for small orchestra speak for themselves and clearly hint at what the music is about. The first movement Aubade leads into the central Capriccio (midday) and the work ends with a dreamy Nocturne. The music is straightforward and beautifully crafted. In her insert notes Rebecca Diependaele mentions that the three movements are based on a children’s song but she does not mention which. I must admit that I did not spot it. Nevertheless this is a very fine work again, scored for small orchestra consisting of a wind quintet, a string quintet, piano and percussion. It should become hugely popular with similar chamber orchestras.
This varied and attractive programme with music by composers from different aesthetics and generations is welcome indeed especially when played and recorded as here.
A nicely varied programme of Belgian music by composers of different generations … see Full Review