Albéric MAGNARD (1865-1914)
Cello Sonata in A major Op. 20 (1910) [27:04]
En Dieu, mon espérance et mon Espée pour ma Défense for piano (1888) [5:24]
Trois pièces for piano, Op. 1 (1887-88) [10:17]
Promenades for piano, Op. 7 (1893) [27:52]
Alain Meunier (cello)
Philippe Guilhon-Herbert (piano)
rec. no details given
HORTUS 085 [70:37]
This disc makes neighbours of Magnard’s one and only Cello Sonata and his complete music for solo piano. The half hour four movement Sonata is a work of no little strenuous drama. This is married with burnished and noble lyricism. The music becomes splendidly statuesque in the third movement. All in all, it’s a descendant of the Franck chamber music. Its stingingly introspective ways are out of the same territory as early Fauré: Piano Quartet No.1. Here is a work with affirmatively Grand Manner credentials. It was the last of his five chamber scores.
Then there’s the piano music. The Trois Pièces op. 1 betray a patterned adulation of Bach as two of the titles suggest: Choral et Fugette and Prélude et Fugue. Their placid countenances bookend a more generalised romantic Feuille d’album. By way of contrast, from about the same time, comes his En Dieu, mon espérance et mon Espée pour ma Défense. This reflects an infatuation with Liszt and Wagner. Some of the writing is passionately tumultuous. The gentle Promenades comprise seven pieces all but one of which (Envoi, the first) bear titles that reflect the names of Parisian suburbs: Bois de Boulogne, Villebon, Saint-Cloud, Saint-Germain, Trianon and Rambouillet. Specially memorable are the fluttering majesty of Villebon and the crystalline, floral and bell-bedecked delight of the last and longest piece, Rambouillet. They were written in homage to his future wife Julia.
Magnard was a pupil of Massenet and then privately with D’Indy (1888-1892). His other works include four symphonies (Pathé EMI on 5 72364 2 (Plasson), Bis (Thomas Sanderling), Hyperion (Ossonce)), five other orchestral pieces (Timpani, Mark Stringer) and three operas including Guercoeur (1897-1901) and Bérénice (1905-08). Guercoeur was once available on Bourg BGC 2021 with radio forces conducted in the mid-1960s by Tony Aubin and later with Plasson on EMI (50999 5 59828 2).
The notes by Marc Vignal in French and English are wonderfully presented – lucid in word choice, translation, font selection and page layout.
I am now all the more sorry to have missed out on the 5 CD Accord set of the complete Magnard chamber music (200752 MU 75). On this showing we must hope for a reissue.
Rob Barnett
Strenuous drama married with burnished and noble lyricism.