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CD: AmazonUK

Leo SMIT (1900-1943)
Trio for flute, viola and harp (1928) [14:52]
Quintet for violin viola, cello, flute and harp (1928) [21:10]
Alexander TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Alla Pollaca [1:57]
Suite pour Trio d’anches (1949) [9:58]
Sonatina da Camera, for violin, viola, cello, flute and harp [14:44]
Trois Pièces, for harp, clarinet and string quartet (1970) [8:57]
Rachel Talitman (harp); Michael Guttman (violin); Pierre-Henry Xuereb (viola): Manfred Stilz (cello); Marcos Fregnani-Martins (flute): Jean-Luc Votano (clarinet); Trio Abocalips (Jean-Luc Votano (clarinet), Sébastien Guedj (oboe); Joanie Carlier (bassoon))
Quartet Ardente (Ales Ulrich and Audrey Gallez (violins); Sarah Charlier (viola); Olivier Vanderschaeghe (cello))
rec. 2010
HARP & COMPANY CD-5050-21 [72:42]

Experience Classicsonline

These near contemporaries share a gravitational pull – actual and stylistic in Smit’s case - toward Paris. Both were Jews, Smit being Dutch of Portuguese descent and Tansman, very much the better known, Polish.

Smit moved to Paris in 1927. He returned to Amsterdam a decade later but in 1943 he was transported to Sobibor where he was killed shortly after arrival. His Trio for flute, viola and harp dates from 1928 and is a single movement of changing moods, a refined nocturnal leading on to little, almost military calls, and then ensuing Ravelian hues. Smit ensures that colours and textures change, so that there are little soloistic moments, rich arpeggios for the harp and a warmly textured slow section. The Quintet dates from around the same time. Again it’s almost explicitly devoted to Ravel’s methodology in texture and mood, though it does tend to the more crepuscular. Cleverly it gathers pace, then slackens, trading on an evocative sense of timbre and colour more than the actual distinction of the melody lines themselves.

Tansman is represented by a quartet of pieces of varying dimensions. His Alla Pollaca is enjoyable and slight, lasting barely two minutes. More substantial is the Suite, which has been accorded several recordings. This work for wind trio (1949) is a perky, Stravinskian affair with a wistful neo-baroque Aria and a bubbly bassoon-led finale cross-pollinated by the chatter of the oboe and clarinet; all reconciled very adeptly, and quietly. It’s a fine work, characterful and clean. The Sonatina da Camera for violin, viola, cello, flute and harp is a lissom work that embraces a delicate nocturnal and is stamped, as was Smit, by Ravel’s mark. There’s considerable, rapt simplicity, as well as some high spirits, unleashed in the Finale (mistakenly tracked 13 on the jewel box – beware, it’s 12). Once again things are clear, clean, with a Gallic ethos meeting the rhythmic pungency of Stravinsky. Finally we have the Trois Pièces, for harp, clarinet and string quartet, written in 1970. The first is languorous and leisurely, whilst the second could go a touch faster than it does in this performance. The final piece opens with a brief but effective Lento section, and then launches off into affirmative dynamism.

There have been a number of recordings of the Tansman pieces, but Smit has been much less well represented on disc. The performances here are generally fine – though sometimes things could be etched with a degree more animation. The layout of booklet and box is a bit of a mess, but you should certainly be prepared to overlook that if in pursuit of this repertoire.

Jonathan Woolf





























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