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Jonathan Woolf
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Arthur HONEGGER (1892-1955)
Petite Suite (1936) [2:42]
Danse de la chèvre (1921) [2:50]
Albert MOESCHINGER (1897-1985)
Violin Sonata No.1, Op.62 [14:35]
Constantin REGAMEY (1907-1982)
String Quartet No.1 (1948) [21:45]
Georges Aurèle Nicolet (flute), Hansheinz Schneeberger (violin), Pierre Souvairan (piano)
Hansheinz Schneeberger (violin), Pierre Souvairan (piano)
Winterthur String Quartet
rec. c.1954

This is a faithful realization of Decca LXT2849, expertly transferred but necessarily of short duration. It contains three chamber pieces by three composers all of whom were alive at the time of the recording – though Honegger was to die soon after. Neither Albert Moeschinger nor Constantin Regamey were well-known then and nor are they now. Both died in the 1980s.

Honegger’s Petite Suite of 1936 was entrusted to Georges Aurèle Nicolet (flute), Hansheinz Schneeberger (violin) and Pierre Souvairan (piano) and they deal adeptly with its characteristic French limpidity. Nicolet plays beautifully and she and Schneeberger imbue the folkloric elements of the piece with great charm and tonal lustre whilst Souvairan embodies harp-like elegance at the piano. Danse de la chèvre is a solo for flute, and calls on the performer’s athletic and lyric grace, qualities duly provided.

This was the first recording of Moeschinger’s Violin Sonata No.1. It’s in three conventional movements, the first being an ABA structure with quietly hypnotic rhythm, the violin taken high, the temper of the music veiled and melancholic, then lyric and fast before returning to quietude. The central slow movement intensifies the sense of the funereal in a sustained five-minute lament. The scampering finale sees both players working hard to project what seems like a kind of forced jollity. It’s a rewarding work, strongly projected by the duo.

The final piece is Regamey’s String Quartet of 1948 played by the Winterthur Quartet, led by Peter Rybar. Polish but with Swiss ancestry - hence the programmatic concordance with Honegger and Moeschinger, who were both Swiss – Regamey’s work is studded with both impressionistic elements and scrunchy dissonances. The slow movement is notably concentrated, shorn of frills, powerfully expressive and showing an assimilation of twelve-tone elements contextualised into, in part, a kind of threnody. There are certainly emotive links with the similar movement in Moeschinger’s sonata. The finale, with pizzicato underpinning, is clean, clear, sports taut themes and is full of affirmatory elegance.

Decca’s recording was well judged and its thoughtful and imaginative Swiss-led programming ensures that the slight but beautifully calibrated Honegger brace act as an entrée to the larger challenges of the sonata and quartet.

Jonathan Woolf

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