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Louis AUBERT (1877-1968)
Sonata for violin and piano "A la mémoire de mon Maître Gabriel Fauré " (1926) [20:12]
Caprice for violin and piano (1924) [7:43]
Berceuse de la Suite rêve Op. 6 for violin and piano (1900) [2:27]
Sillages Op. 27 for piano (1908-12) [19:55]
Aubade for violin and piano (1948) [2:00]
Lutin Op. 11 for piano (1903) [4:16]
Romance for violin and piano (1894-95 - unpubl) [2:34]
Trois Esquisses Op. 7 for piano (1900) [6:05]
Romance Op. 2 for violin and piano (1897) [3:18]
Madrigal Op. 9 No. 1 (1901) arr. for violin and piano by S. Moraly [4:39]
Sur deux noms for violin and piano (1947 - unpublished) [1:50]
Stéphanie Moraly (violin), Romain David (piano)
rec. 2018, Paris

When Louis Aubert died in Paris on 9 January 1968, he was more or less forgotten by the musical world. He was born on 19 February 1877 in Paramé, Ille-et-Vilaine, situated in Brittany, Northern France. His musical talent surfaced early, and his parents sent him to Paris for studies. His vocal gifts resulted in Gabriel Fauré choosing him as the treble soloist in the Pie Jesu at the premiere of his Requiem. In fact, he attended Fauré’s composition classes at the Paris Conservatoire. The composer was to become a significant influence.

Aubert gained a reputation as an accomplished pianist. He premiered Maurice Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales in 1911; he was the work’s dedicatee. He later taught piano and composition at the Conservatoire in Paris. His compositions favoured the voice, and there is no doubt that the vocal qualities of the violin attracted him. He wrote many miniatures for his violinist friends, very much in the salon style. Sur deux noms for violin and piano was such a piece, rediscovered by Stéphanie Moraly, the violinist on this recording. It was an anniversary present to Lucienne and André Asselin, and is a delightful gem with a hint of nostalgia.

It was "to the memory of Gabriel Fauré" that Aubert dedicated his D minor Sonata for violin and piano, structured in the tried and tested fast-slow-fast mould. The opening theme of the first movement returns in the finale, giving the work a cyclical feel. This is my first encounter with the work. I am bowled over by its intensity, passion and overflowing lyricism. The middle movement, marked Lent et très expressif, is elegiac, haunting and bathed in iridescence. Moraly and Romain David give a full-bloodied account, rich in musical insights and fully mining the score’s poetry and lyricism.

The early Romance of 1894-1895 remains unpublished to this day. It is a charming delicacy, where the piano part is of equal interest. The other Romance, Op. 2, from two years later, started life as a solo piano work, later transcribed for either violin or flute by Lucien Garban. Once again, Aubert’s melodic gifts are there for all to savour. Another arrangement, made by Stéphanie Moraly, is Madrigal, Op. 9, a piece originally for solo flute. Its tender and fervid line seems tailor-made for the fiddle. The Caprice of 1924 is more harmonically adventurous, evincing a later style.

The solo piano works have already had an outing on CD. Rob Barnett reviewed Cristina Ariagno’s recording on Brilliant Classics, which I have not heard. The masterpiece is, without doubt, Sillages, a triptych on a par, in my view, with Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit. Throughout, Ravel is an abiding influence in this stunning impressionistic canvas depicting seascapes and seasoned with Iberian flavours. It opens with Sur le rivage, where cascading arpeggios paint a dazzling vista. It could not be so different from the introspective contemplation of Socorry which follows it. The mercurial Dans la nuit ends the cycle. The Trois Esquisses Op. 7 for solo piano date from 1900. The central Nocturne is the most substantial of the pieces. Sombre and meditative, it contemplates the stillness of the night. It is framed by a Prelude and Valse, both more salon-like. I admire Romain David’s characterisation of these works, in addition to his colourful and virtuosic rendition.

Aubert’s captivating scores could have no better advocates than Moraly and David, who perform them with admirable commitment. They have been beautifully recorded as well.

Stephen Greenbank




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