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René de BOISDEFFRE (1838-1906)
Works for Flute and Piano
Sonate for flute and piano op. 50 [28:49]
Sérénade for flute with piano accompaniment op. 59 [3:22]
Sérénade for flute, violin and piano op. 85 [4:18]
Pastorale for flute with piano accompaniment op. 90 [3:51]
Trois Pièces for flute and piano op. 31 [11:39]
Doux sommeil - Berceuse for flute and piano op. 38 no. 5 [3:06]
Au bord d'un ruisseau - Sérénade champêtre for flute and piano op. 52 [3:19]
Canzonetta for flute and piano op. 39 no. 8 [4:10]
Andalouse for flute and piano [5:13]
Robert Nalewajka (flute)
Joanna Ławrynowicz (piano)
Dobrosława Siudmak (violin)
rec. 2016, Teatr Wielki Opera Narodowa Warszawie. DDD

René de Boisdeffre was, rather sniffily, considered an amateur when it came to compositions; not that this held him back from writing a lot of music. His frustrated ascent to 'the elect' was also put down his provincial Besançon origins. A private pupil of Saint-Saëns he was, according to note-writer Karol Rzepecki, under the influence of Mendelssohn and Gounod.

The masterly op. 50 sonata, which works very well indeed in this flute version, is full of ideas that stick and make you want to come back; try the first movement. It boasts a sweet bel canto but with some well grounded dark roots that save it from mere prettiness. It's warm and smiling but not an insubstantial butterfly flutter of a work. This composer's gift for bittersweet curvaceous melodies and sturdy ideas give the work a sturdy backbone. The Sérénade op. 59 is also for flute and piano. Its melancholic ways suggest a link with early Fauré. The op. 85 Sérénade for flute, violin and piano is a casually sauntering charmer. The Pastorale is quite brisk with de Boisdeffre's gift for a good melody in plentiful forward-leaning display. The Three Pieces carry a dedication to the French flautist Paul Taffanel (1844-1908). Each of these character sketches is of about four minutes duration. They fly and flit and float. The middle one, an Orientale, is archetypically sultry. The prettiness of Au bord d'un ruisseau, with its trickling and chuckling piano part is a nice contrast with the sleepy summer ooze of the Berceuse Doux sommeil. Add to this line-up some breezily, sweet, Hispanic delight in Andalouse. This last piece is not to be forgotten when you next need some Spanish local colour for your concert or listening session.

The violin of Dobroslawa Siudmak, as heard here in the trio, tends toward a searchingly piercing thinness rather than the voluptuous tendencies of Robert Nalewajka's flute. The pianist Joanna Lawrynowicz comes across well although none of these fine artists is exactly flattered by the slightly dry and enclosed acoustic. Lawrynowicz is one of Acte Préalable's mainstays. Her discography with them runs to about 24 discs and includes a complete Chopin. Her composers' honour roll extends to Maliszewski, Dobrzynski, Melcer, Stojowski, Twardowski and Zelenski.

The Polish label Acte Préalable and its 'head honcho', Paris-based Jan A Jarnicki, can be counted on for a wide and deep commitment to Polish composers, especially those of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. Here we are cut free from the nationality constraint with music by René de Boisdeffre, an enthusiastic and skilled adherent of French romanticism.

This is not Acte Préalable's first dance with de Boisdeffre. AP0362 conferred on us that composer's Violin Sonata No. 2 op. 50 - a version of the flute sonata heard here or vice versa. That disc also included other Boisdeffre works for violin and piano. For a further sally into the Gallic there are two volumes of music by Emile Pierre Ratez - one for viola and piano (AP0358) and the other for flute, viola and piano (AP0366).

Whatever creative torments he may have suffered René de Boisdeffre's music for flute and piano speaks of a gentle unassuming soul. It's a cut above the run-of-the-mill mincing sentimentality of the genre. As for the Op. 50 Sonata, it is well above that standard.

The notes in Polish, English and French are good but it’s a pity they do not pin down dates for each of these works.

Rob Barnett



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