Joseph GUY ROPARTZ (1864-1955) Prélude, Marine et Chansons (1928) [12:28]
Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997) Quintet No. 1 for flute, harp and string trio (1932) [9:21]
Jean-Yves DANIEL-LESUR (1908-2002) Suite Médiévale (1946) [12:12]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937) Pavane pour une Infante Défunte (arr. Quinto Maganini) (1899 orch 1910) [5:19]
Canta Libre Chamber Ensemble (Sally Shorrock (flute); Bryony Stroud-Watson (violin); Veronica Salas (viola); Bernard Tamosaitis (cello); Karen Lindquist (harp))
rec. June 2009, Bramble Brook Space, USA, DDD
4TAY CD-4033 [39:23]
Some redemption for this disc’s desperately short playing time is offered by the rarity of the music and some often fine and thoughtful musicianship by Canta Libre (www.cantalibre.org).
The Ropartz has had several recordings including a classic 1960s one from the Melos (EMI) and another as part of Timpani's Ropartz edition. It's a lovely work with many a subtle and elusive delight. It goes well in style with the Ravel Septet and the Bax Nonet. The last two sections are done especially well and the Chansons are not at all bluff. This is a delicate work even when lively. I felt that the playing here was a shade less fluent than in those other two recordings. Full marks though to Canta Libre for championing this lyrico-impressionistic work. I wonder if comparable lyricists such as Bonnal and Witkowski wrote similar works probably inspired by the Ravel and harp-led ensembles such as the Jamet. Time for some musical archaeology please. The boundaries of the last century's French repertoire extend well beyond Ravel and Debussy.
Françaix studied at the Paris Conservatoire. Music was in his blood - his father had been Director of the Conservatoire at Le Mans. Francaix's tuneful music, sustained across a century that rejected melody, is remarkable and any work of his is worth encountering. The Quintet is new to me. It is in four succinct movements with scherzo that combines lively flickering activity and flowing grace. There are also two placid andantes and a chattering brusque Rondo.
Daniel-Lesur was a pupil of symphonist and organ composer Charles Tournemire. With Jolivet, Baudrier and Messiaen he formed part of the Groupe Jeune France in rebellion against neo-classicism. The Suite was written for the Quintette Pierre Jamet. Its five movements are brevities indeed except for the nicely titled L'Ange du Sourire. The first movement Monodie is cool and chaste. L'Ange du Sourire has a drippingly iterative harp ostinato over which meditatively ecstatic solos curve and rise. A more impassioned section retreats as a briskly pulsed chant-based episode closes the mvoement. The Symphonie has a sllight redolence of Capriol-style antiquity. Complainte takes the medieval style material in the direction of Ravel. Danse, with distinctive drum has vivid life, a slightly Moroccan twist and a modest pulse.
Ravel's Pavane is well enough known and there is room for any skilled arrangement that liberates this stately piece of melodic melancholia to be played outside the confines of an orchestra. Here the main line is carried by the viola. It's a lovely piece but for me this is not taken slowly enough - there is more feeling to be extracted.
The liner notes are good but the font is very very small.
I was very pleased to hear this disc but I wonder if it was intended more as a repertoire-adventurous calling card or perhaps as a souvenir of the ensemble's concerts.
Desperately short playing time for a CD is offered some redemption by rarity value.