Les Autographes Vocaux - The Vocal Signatures - Pathé-Art Records 1930-1931
Historic recordings of music by French composers and of the composers speaking.
rec. from electrical process 78s. ADD, mono, 1930-31
Full track details at end of review
TIMPANI 1C1201 [77:27]
Timpani are not really associated with reissues of vintage recordings. Most of their catalogue is made up of superbly produced and documented revivals of the French repertoire beyond the obvious Debussy and Ravel. There are, however, some historic issues in their catalogue. I reviewed their Albert Wolff/Lamoureux/Polydor (1928-1932) box but infuriatingly missed out on their double CD of harpist Pierre Jamet and his Quintet (2C2122) and their gathering together of 4 CDs-worth of historic Franck (4C4017).
The voices of composers long silenced by death follow recordings of their music made by Pathé-Art some eighty years ago. It’s a great idea and one not echoed elsewhere although collections of historic recordings of music only by British composers are far from unheard of from Pearl, Pristine, Dutton and Symposium. I cannot think of a single comparable disc which alternates music and speech, albeit very briefly, by and of various composers of one nation.
The bubbly d’Indy Wallenstein’s Camp at times seems indebted to Berlioz and Dukas while at others lapses into sturdy light music mode. It grew on me a little with repeated hearings. Widor’s Korrigan extracts are clearly for the ballet and are in the frothy stylised idiom established by Delibes and Messager. The notes also refer to Lalo’s Namouna which is a much more memorable score - at least on this evidence. I have A very high regard for Ropartz. La Cloche des Morts is a strong score of his with a sturdy and passionately gripping atmospheric signature: Tchaikovsky and Franck well-met by moonlight. Ropartz’s voice rings out with confidence in the speech extract as does that of Hüe. This is to be compared with the shrill-feeble Widor and the thinner yet positive tenor of d’Indy.
The ballet music extract La Ronde des saisons by Henri Büsser shakes no rafters but is smoothly personable. Schmitt is represented by Bayreuth and Nuremberg from Reflets d’Allemagne. Unsurprisingly the first of these has snatches of Wagner scores woven in. These are charming little postcards: frictionless and undemanding, unlike the Ropartz. The four extracts from Georges Hüe’s epic medieval five-act opera Le Miracle (1910) is drawn from the Act II danced divertissement. It’s full of character, suggesting that an orchestral Hüe selection would not be a waste of time. The Roussel music is well enough known, not least from the EMI Classics recording of the ballet conducted just the year before by the composer for EMI. You can hear that 1929 recording on EMI’s Composers in Person volume, on the disc shared by Roussel with Schmitt (review). It is very atmospheric, as is Roussel’s quickly delivered little introduction to the recording. Quite apart from being an interpreter of Fauré, Ravel and Debussy (see the Testament catalogue) Inghelbrecht had more than skill as a composer. His archingly melodic, emotionally touching and sensitively impressionistic Sinfonia Breve da Camera is of provocative substance. A very worthwhile piece that deserves a modern recording provided it captures the vivacity so clearly evident here. The Inghelbrecht stands high in this company alongside the Ropartz and to some degree the Hüe.
The timing is generous. The notes are in French by Jacques Tchamkerten and Philippe Morin and in an English translation by Timpani stalwart John Tyler Tuttle. The brief speeches by each composer are also given in English translation on the back of the booklet.
Inevitably for specialists but the wider constituency will make discoveries here. Record companies would do well to emulate this Timpani collection for composers of other nations where the resources exist.
Rob Barnett 
Inevitably for specialists but other will make discoveries here.
Full Track details: 
Vincent D’INDY (1851-1931)
1 Le Camp de Wallenstein [12:12]
2 Vincent d’Indy parle/speaks [0:45]
Charles-Marie WIDOR (1844-1937)
La Korrigane (extraits du ballet)
3 La Sabotière [3:16]
4 Entrée d’Yvonnette [2:59]
5 Charles-Marie Widor parle/speaks [0:20]
Joseph-Guy ROPARTZ (1864-1955)
6 La Cloche des morts [6:51]
7 J-Guy Ropartz parle/speaks [0:48]
Henri BÜSSER (1872-1973)
8 La Ronde des saisons (extrait du ballet) [5:35]
9 Henri Büsser parle/speaks [0:16]
Florent SCHMITT (1870-1958)
Reflets d’Allemagne (extraits)
10 Munich [3:17]
11 Nuremberg [3:06]
12 Florent Schmitt parle/speaks [0:20]
Georges HÜE (1858-1948)
Le Miracle (extraits de l:opéra)
13 Éscoliers et ribaudes [1:51]
14 Danse de l’ours [1:18]
15 Variations [2:02]
16 Final [1:01]
17 Georges Hüe parle/speaks [0:13]
Albert ROUSSEL (1869-1937)
Le Festin de l’araignée (fragments)
18 Prélude [3:30]
19 Entrée des fourmis [1:13]
20 Danse et mort du papillon [3:19]
21 Naissance, danse et funérailles de l’éphémère [7:59]
22 Albert Roussel parle/speaks [0:16]
Désiré-Émile INGHELBRECHT (1880-1965)
Sinfonia breve da camera
23 Tranquillo [5:30]
24 Pastorale [6:05]
25 Finale [4:30]
26 D.-É. Inghelbrecht parle/speaks [0:33] 

Orchestra conducted by the composer in each case

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