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Guillaume LE DRÉAU (b. 1982)
Piano Sonata, Op.6 (2005) [13:38]
A la manière de…Fauré (2007) [3:08]
Feuillet d’Album (2008) [1:53]
Deux Études de sonorité (2001) [3:07]
Marines Op.1 (1999-2000) [18:49]
Ghazels, Op.22 (2017) [18:59]
L’ile Xiphos (2015) [3:11]
Hymnes à la Nuit, Op.13 (extracts; Nos 1, 2, 3, 6) (2008-09) [13:50]
Guillaume Le Dréau (piano)
rec. 2018, Forgotten Records Studio, Rennes

French composer Guillaume Le Dréau divides his time between composition, research and teaching. A student of piano and organ he studied in Rennes and Lyon before further studies in Paris. He now teaches at the conservatoire in Rennes and is the city’s cathedral organist.

This selection of his piano music, played by the composer, charts a near two-decade span from 1999 to 2017. His Sonata of 2005 reveals a Ravel-inspired sensibility, its deft, pellucid clarity possessing a watchful quality that’s immediately communicative. The repeated phrases of the central movement meanwhile have a quietly hypnotic, gauzy effect balanced by zestier contrastive writing and animated by crisp chording. The finale hints at slightly jazzier influence and the less mordant, corrosive elements of Prokofiev’s writing. There is a sensitively shaped salute to another formative influence in the form of A la manière de…Fauré and a very brief Feuillet d’Album, which appears initially to be stern but quickly admits sensuous wave-like lapping in the right hand.

The two Etudes are also brief and contrastive pieces penned in 2001 – studies in sonority and colour, repetition and a perceptive control of movement. Marines, Op.1 is the earliest of the pieces in this album, four watercolours or aquatints, poetic nature studies that bathe in marine light and in the play of dappled seashore wash. Of this quartet of pieces, there’s an especially nice and rather explicitly Debussian Clair de Lune. We move from the oldest to the newest, the six Ghazels, Op.22 of 2017. The poetic form employed houses some compelling and demanding pieces, technically speaking, though the overriding impression is one of atmospherics and characterisation rather than transcendental etudes; so, one finds percussive and dappled elements, slightly bluesy hues, and a rain study (Roses sous la pluie).

There’s a very attractive little piece, three minutes long – most of the composers’ pieces and indeed movements are tightly constructed – called L’Ile Xiphos. The final work is Hymnes à la Nuit, a cycle of six pieces of which we hear four. The composer in his notes writes of the mirrors of the soul in relation to these philosophically-derived pieces but the listener will focus more on the lasting influence of Debussy and possibly also that of Scriabin too, in places.

There are notes in French and English (finely translated) by Le Dréau. The composer-executant projects his music with a persuasive sense of colour and control, imbuing it with warmth and direction.

Jonathan Woolf

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