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Jonathan Woolf
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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

It must be about fifteen years since I bought a copy of Decca LXT2849 at a car boot sale. Unfortunately it had seen better days, and appeared to have had the misfortune of fulfilling the dual role of LP and coffee cup coaster. Despite this, I prized it for one work in particular, Constantin Regamey’s String Quartet No. 1, a very fine composer, far from a household name, with very few works available on disc. So, this remastering of the Decca LP by Forgotten Records is just what the doctor ordered.

Honegger's perfectly formed Petite Suite is less than three minutes duration. The composer allowed for some flexibility in the scoring; suggestions include flutes, oboes, violins or recorders for the melodic line, with accompanying piano or harp. Over the years it’s been performed in a variety of instrumental combinations. Here, Georges Aurèle Nicolet (flute), Hansheinz Schneeberger (violin) and Pierre Souvairan (piano) do the honours. All are on top form in this captivating performance, creating a brightly-coloured tapestry of sound. Danse de la chèvre is a piece for solo flute. After a brief plaintive introduction, a nimble animated dance-like section emerges, elegantly managed by Nicolet.

Recordings of the music of Albert Moeschinger are thin on the ground, indeed this is the only performance of a work by him I’ve ever heard. The legendary Swiss violinist, Hansheinz Schneeberger is here partnered by Pierre Souvairan. The Violin Sonata No.1 is an attractive work, opening with the violin surfing the higher reaches against a tolling accompaniment on the piano. The effect is dreamy and mesmeric. The slow movement is doleful in its funereal tread. The piano’s swirling accompaniment and the violin’s frolics finally lift the listener out of the haze to a more upbeat plane in the third movement.

Constantin Regamey’s String Quartet No.1 dates from 1948, and is another rarity. Animated cascades set the ball rolling in the opener. Everything is kept busy and moving, and the harmonies are jarring and dissonant. An elegiac slow movement follows. The finale is spiky and angular and rhythmically propulsive. The Winterthur Quartet is led by Peter Rybar, and deliver a performance rich in musical insights.

The recordings date from around 1954 and are in good mono sound. The chief selling point of this attractive release is the rarity value of some of the works.

Stephen Greenbank

Previous review: Jonathan Woolf

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