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René de BOISDEFFRE (1838-1906)
Trois pieces pittoresques for cello and piano, Op. 93 [11:24]
Six pieces for cello and piano, Op. 15 (c.1870) [12:55]
Cello Sonata, Op.63 (c.1894) [30:12]
Élévation for cello and piano (or organ), Op. 48 (1892) [3:26]
Deux Morceaux for cello and piano, Op. 51 (1892) [8:42]
Suite for cello and piano. Op.56 (1892-93) [9:10]
Luca Fiorentini (cello), Jakub Tchorzewski (piano)
rec. 2018, BlowOutStudio, Trevio, Italy

As this label’s previous discs have so amply demonstrated, the pretty much forgotten René de Boisdeffre had pronounced gifts for melodic beauty. This wasn’t lost on instrumentalists of old and the pioneering and popular American violinist Maud Powell recorded one of the Frenchman’s morceaux in the very early years of the twentieth century. Yet the occasional recording was not enough and it’s taken the concerted dedication of Acte Préalable to bring his music to the table once more in a series of discs of which this is the latest.

The spirit of delight hangs over all the cello pieces in this recital. The Sonata was composed around 1894 and is in four standard movements. He doesn’t really nod to, say, Saint-Saëns or to Fauré; rather, the piano writing cleaves quite closely to Schumann’s example in the long first movement and advances the claims of well-structured sonata form, whilst elsewhere the aims are those of warm lyricism in the Andante, jovial confidence in the scherzo, and boldness in the finale. The slightly earlier Suite, Op.56 has three movements; a quietly melancholy Lied showing his talent for memorable compression of themes, a charming salon-styled and colourful Berceuse, and a fresh-faced Scherzo.

Each of the pieces in the disc has merit. The very approachable Trois pièeces pittoresques, for example, evokes a nature triptych, with a light landscape scene followed by a flowing Sur la plage and a sensuous Barcarolle with tellingly lovely themes. A composer with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of lyricism up his sleeve, the four surviving pieces of the Six Pièces have a full complement of characterisation – plangent lyricism, rhythmic vitality but also the funereal bell chimes of the Adagietto.

There is also Élévation for cello and piano (or organ), a romance sans paroles, in effect, and finally the two Morceaux, Op.51. The first of these is slightly Fauréan, or as close to Fauré as de Boisdeffre came, and the second a correspondingly jovial and boldly self-confident Chant d’automne.
The booklet production, in its standard red livery, is attractively done and the cover artwork, a dappled Corot, has been perceptively selected. The performances are generous, expressive and thoroughly convincing – another milestone in the exploration of this warm-hearted composer’s representation on disc.

Jonathan Woolf

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