Benjamin GODARD (1849-1895)
Valse chromatique op. 88 [4.22]
Promenade en mer op. 86 [4.45]
Romance sans paroles no. 2 op.120 [5.44]
Sonate Fantastique op. 63 (Les Génies de la foret; Les farfadets: La Fée d'amour - Les Esprits de la mer) [24:39]
Venitienne (Barcarolle No. 4) [6.08]
Mazurka No. 1 op. 25 [3.37]
Sonate No. 2 op. 94 [24:18]
Jouni Somero (piano)
world premiere recordings
rec. 7-8 Mar 2011, Kuusaa Hall, Kuusankoski, Finland. DDD
FC RECORDS FCRCD-9738 [73:35]
Somero is used to breaking down the bunds built up by immemorial neglect and smug dismissal. A glance at his FC Records catalogue is all the evidence you need. Here he turns to French 19th century composer Benjamin Godard. In this he follows in the honourable footsteps of Vox, Naxos and most recently Dutton. Before that Godard benefited from the private recordings of Bhagwan Thadani – CDs 15-19 in his Edition with re-creations of various works for piano and orchestra including the Fantaisie Persane and the Introduction et Allegro.
Godard’s output was substantial. It includes of six or eight operas (the least neglected of which is Jocelyn), a dramatic choral symphony La Tasse (1878), three string quartets, four violin sonatas, 100 songs and 100 piano pieces, a couple of violin concertos (Romantique No.2, 1876, is available on a Vox disc) and six pictorial symphonies: No. 1; No.2 (1880), No. 3 Ballet (1882), No. 4 Gothique (1883), No. 5 Orientale (1884) (review) and No. 6 Legendaire (1886).
The Valse Chromatique is a pearlescent piece of Chopinerie of some explosive display and charm. Shards of light fly left and right in a Lisztian conflagration but it is the brooding Chopin of the Ballades that is in the ascendant. The calmer and warmly cradled Promenade en Mer is followed by the slowly climactic Romance sans paroles. The Sonate fantastique comprises the tremblingly tense and melodramatically stormy Les Genies de la Foret, the Goblin Grieg pianola volleys of Les Farfadets, the tender and feminine then majestically expressive Rachmaninovian La Fée d’amour - Les esprits de la Mer. Venitienne is heavy with plangent romance with hints of the threat. Mazurka No. 1 has plenty of polish, snap and panache. The Piano Sonata No. 2 is in three movements: a fast-running Allegro flooded with feeling and a touch of Dies Irae in the DNA, an Adagio, all stillness and placid repose like a slow petal unfolding and a Scherzo-Final which is at first midsummer night flimsy then rushing Griegian fantasy becoming goblin obstreperous at the end. It’s a most impressive sonata and if you play one movement then opt for La Fee d'amour and Les esprits de La mer.
Attractive music which runs the range from salon trifles to romantic tempest.
Rob Barnett
Attractive music which runs the range from salon trifles to romantic tempest.