The circle of musicians and composers who were associated with
and directly influenced by Marcel Mule (1901-2001), the very
distinguished, pioneering and long-lived French saxophonist,
was extensive. This disc concentrates on five such composers
and I reckon very few of the works will be at all familiar.
Of them only the Jolivet may ring any bells.
His Fantasie-impromptu was written in 1953 and offers
two sides of Jolivet’s musical personality. A strongly
plaintive element is soon subverted, undercut, replaced (call
it what you will) by an increasingly naughty infusion, on the
piano, of Gershwin influence. This is almost immediately picked
up by the saxophone. Together the two change the direction of
the music with charming alacrity. High spirits rule.
Paule Maurice, who taught sight-reading at her alma mater, the
Paris Conservatoire, contributes Tableaux de Provence,
written at an overlapping period with the Jolivet. These light-heated
picture-postcard portraits are warmly textured and delightfully
characterised. They’re also capricious, too, with a final
tableaux hinting at a bee in flight. Mule suggested a cadenza
here, as it was too easy for him.
Jacques Charpentier’s Gavambodi 2 is a much tougher
nut to crack. The Messiaen student wrote the piece in 1966,
and its terseness, and its brittle qualities, may seem forbidding.
Persistence, however, brings rewards because its angularity
seems after a time almost to suggest the quality of piano raga.
It slowly winds down to end, seemingly without true resolution.
Intriguing, and a splendid find, splendidly performed.
Fernande Decruck (born Jeanne-Decruck Breikl Delphine) was an
organist and professor at the Paris Conservatory. She married
Maurice Decruck Fernande, a one-time saxophone soloist with
the New York Philharmonic. I’m having a hard time working
out what on earth is going on with their names. Her Sonata has
some rather lovely, wistful melodies, with firefly circular
lines in the central movement. The finale hints at Ravel’s
Piano Concerto, no bad influence.
Finally there is Jeanine Rueff’s 1951 Chanson et passepied
full of neo-baroque gentility, staccato wit and a certain self-confident
Michael Ibrahim and John Morrison respond to the challenges
and demands of this mixed repertoire with aplomb and conviction.
They make a fine ensemble team. I have to point out the short