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╔mile JAQUES-DALCROZE (1865-1950)
Piano Music - Volume Two
20 Caprices and Rhythmic Studies:
Set I (1920) [24:36]
Set II (1920) [26:16]
Esquisse pour une exercice de cordes [3:00]
Cascades (1910) [5:23]
Paolo Muna˛ (piano)
rec. April 2018, Studio Ansermet, Radio Suisse Romande, Geneva
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC0532 [59:16]

Émile Jaques-Dalcroze was of Swiss birth. A committed and determined composer, he numbered Delibes, FaurÚ, Bruckner and Fuchs among his teachers. His name will always be entwined with his development of Eurhythmics (movement and music) but our concern here is with his compositions.

As those who have been following his reviving fortunes on this site will know, he has orchestral works (as well as operas and cantatas) including symphonies and concertos to his name. These can be found on Sterling and Guild (Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Violin Concertos).

That’s quite apart from his solo piano music represented by at least three Toccata volumes, each played by different pianists. This is the second volume in that sequence. Volume 1 (TOCC0473) mounts works, all written in the 1890s, that are said to be lighter in style and under the influence of Schumann and the Parisian salons. Volume 3 (TOCC0540) comprises piano duets mostly from the 1920s and 1930s.

The present works are heard in their first recordings and are in the dexterous hands of Paolo Muna˛. He deals in an eloquently spun and expressed approach to this music. Cascades (1910) is like a radio station signature tune in days of yore. The music is slowly paid out. It’s a sweet piece threaded through with darkness, trilling passion and moments of contentment at rest. Esquisse pour un exercice de cordes (c. 1930) demonstrates gruffness and taciturnity but the clouds finally part for warm and sunny contentment - evidently something of a trademark for Jaques-Dalcroze.

Now to the twenty Caprices and Rhythmic Studies from a couple of years after the end of the Great War. They have depth and variety, as well as a measure of display. Cold academic essays they are not. The composer’s stock in trade is subtle melodious tonality. There is nothing in the way of atonality or neo-classicism; just melodious carefully weighted and calculated lyrics. At times I thought of Godowsky’s Java Suite. No. 3 (‘Agitato’) has sweetness won through agitated turmoil. In No. 4 (‘Poco lento e calmato’) the night sky casts a glistering and glimmering net. The little accelerations of No. 7 (‘Tranquillo’) are not really all that tranquil. No. 9 (‘Moderato con dignitÓ’) trades in melancholy mixed with dignity. No. 11 (‘Moderato’) is a dignified piacevole. ‘Movimento di Valse lente’ spins intricate little waltz episodes. ‘Un poco animato ed intimo’ (15) is a sweetened poem with the complexity of an almost Medtnerian melody. No. 18 (‘Leggiero e con tenerezza’) is lambent blended with a FaurÚ-like tenderness. The ‘Leggiero e con semplicitÓ’ conveys the freshness of a sunny Hebridean morning; well that’s the way I hear it. The final piece (20) spins a lissom melody among well-constructed convolutions.

The liner-notes are typical of Toccata’s annotations - detailed and accessible. They are by Jacques Tchamkerten and are in English and French.
 
Rob Barnett


Contents
Cascades (c. 1910)

20 Caprices and Rhythmic Studies: Set I (publ. 1920)
No. 1 Allegro giusto
No. 2 Tranquillo e soave
No. 3 Agitato
No. 4 Poco lento e calmato
No. 5 Lento deciso
No. 6 Con forza e ritmo
No. 7 Tranquillo
No. 8 Strepitoso
No. 9 Moderato con dignitÓ
No. 10 Allegramente

20 Caprices and Rhythmic Studies: Set II (publ. 1920)
No. 11 Moderato
No. 12 Movimento di Valse lente
No. 13 Allegretto capriccioso
No. 14 Allegramente
No. 15 Un poco animato ed intimo
No. 16 Capriccioso e con gioia
No. 17 Deciso
No. 18 Leggiero e con tenerezza
No. 19 Leggiero e con semplicitÓ
No. 20 Animato assai ma a tempo

Esquisse pour un exercice de cordes (c. 1930)



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