One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £14.99 postage paid world-wide.

Ermend BONNAL (1880-1944)
Légende (1912, trans. Vincent Grappy) [11:07] *
Symphonie d’après “Media vita” (1932) [24:58]
Improvisation (1907, trans. Grappy) [4:19] *
Paysages euskareins (1930) [21:45]
Après la tourmente [9:10] *
Vincent Grappy (organ)
Christophe Giovaninetti (violin) *
rec. la collégiale Saint-Pierre de Douai
HORTUS 132 [71:19]

Ermend Bonnal was born in Bordeaux in 1880, studying first the piano, then the organ with Alexandre Guilmant at the Paris Conservatoire. There his composition teacher was Fauré, but it was Charles Tournemire who was to exert the greatest influence. During the First World War he performed as an organist in his native city and he also had an itch for popular music and brought out tangos, ragtime numbers and foxtrots under a pseudonym. He composed a steady stream of works in most forms, from sonatas to oratorios, eventually succeeding Tournemire, in the early years of the Second World War, at the organ of Sainte Clotilde. He was not to enjoy much more time, however, dying in 1944.

This disc is devoted to his organ compositions, of which three feature the violin. His organ music stands at the conjunction of Tournemire and Duruflé, both honouring tradition and striding out to some newer directions. The Symphonie d’après “Media vita” dates from 1932 and is a concert orientated work that takes a Gregorian theme. Cast in three movements, it’s notable for the deft registrations and range of dynamics explored as well as its sense of colour. There is much lyricism to be heard as well as lively contrasts, and a gravely luminous slow movement sits at its heart albeit with some dynamic effects to be heard in the faster material. Jubilation opens the finale but Bonnal is a notably well-balanced composer and always ensures that his music is calibrated with just the right weight of emotive control.

The other major work is the Paysages euskariens, in which cosmopolitan technique fuses with folkloric inspiration to generate a work of great fancy and flair. The imagery may well be, as the brief notes declare, parareligious but there is much that is captivating and immensely fresh, and once again Bonnal proves a minor master in the use of colour in his scores.

The Légende of 1912 is transcribed, by organist Vincent Grappy, from the piano accompaniment. This is quite a fascinating work with folkloric inflections once more and also, to ears attuned to it, intimations of Vaughan Williams, whose music Bonnal surely could not have known. There’s even a foreshadowing of the Lark Ascending at one point. The organ offers the violin a supportive cushion with soft, chocolate-rich bass registrations, the fiddle revelling in its quietly passionate introspective song, the whole piece ending as quietly as it had begun. The 1907 Improvisation, again transcribed by Grappy, is briefer and cut from a distinctly Franco-Belgian violin lineage. Finally, there is Après la tourmente and, as per Bonnal’s instructions, Grappy has transcribed it directly from the piano part – this indeed was his precedent for the previous two arrangements. Despite the work’s descriptive title, this is actually the most salon-based piece in the disc, an unaffected but hardly strenuous piece of charm, dedicated to Queen Elisabeth of the Belgians, herself a violinist.

Bonnal’s music is largely unknown these days and the violin works, in these arrangements, are making disc premieres.

Jonathan Woolf



We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger