Philippe GAUBERT (1879-1941)
Au pays basque (1930) [21:39]
Violin Concerto (1929) [17:07]
Poème Romanesque for cello and orchestra (1931) [15:40]
Le Cortège d’Amphitrite (1910) [12:07]
Philippe Graffin (violin); Henri Demarquette (cello)
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Marc Soustrot
rec. Luxembourg, Philharmonie, 2-3, 5-6 November 2010. DDD
TIMPANI 1C1186 [66:33]

Timpani has been the mover and shaker in liberating Gaubert’s musical reputation from the exclusive grasp of flute fraternity. Along with this disc we have Gaubert the composer in Le Chevalier et la Demoiselle (1C1175) and in a superb orchestral disc including the Symphony (1C1135). These are all from Soustrot and Luxembourg.

Au pays basque is a diptych of vivid images of the Basque country – the first being impressionistic rather like d’Indy and early Roussel. The second is in a more in folk-dance mode with some influences from Bizet but touching also the same language as the Spanish composer Evaristo Fernández Blanco (1902-1983) and from Portugal, Luis de Freitas Branco (1890-1955). Gaubert, after the Great War used to spend his summers in the Basque village of Guethary near the Atlantic. He was easy company and sporting a ‘boina’ (the Basque beret) and with his unaffected love for local culture he became a Basque and felt relaxed in this community. The short rhapsodic three movement Violin Concerto was premiered by Firmin Touche with the Lamoureux orchestra. It is an idyllic Delian piece predominantly in a relaxed ecstatic romantic manner. It’s broadly in the same region as the concertante pieces on a recent Hyperion Helios reissue in which Graffin also takes centre-stage. The finale occasionally looks towards Rimsky’s Scheherazade much as does the magnificent Contes d’Orient of Belgian tone poet, Adolphe Biarent. Next comes another three movement concertante piece - the Poème Romanesque. This too is warmly discursive and with a tendency to muse and soliloquise. It’s a tender piece that majors on voluptuously rounded contours and is easy on the ear. Le Cortège d’Amphitrite is very much earlier. It is a grand maritime tone poem relaxed but leaning on a broadly similar glossary to that of La Mer. All very enjoyable.

The well-informed and alluringly communicated liner-notes are by Harry Halbreich - essential reading indeed.

We must hope that scores come to light for the 1937 Serge Lifar ballet Alexandre le Grand and for Inscriptions pour les portes de la ville (1934). This will then perhaps be the cue for a fourth Timpani volume.

While we wait for more Gaubert how about orchestral series for Witkowski (symphonies (1901, 1911, Poème de la Maison (1920) and Mon Lac (1921) for piano and orchestra), Bonnal and d’Ollonne? Also I wonder how long it will be before Henri Demarquette is asked to record Florent Schmitt’s inspired cello concerto entitled Introit, Récit et Congé.

Meantime here are examples of fine works for adherents of the melodic-romantic nationalism.

Rob Barnett

Indispensable listening for adherents of the melodic-romantic nationalism.