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René de BOISDEFFRE (1838-1906)
Works for Violin and Piano - Volume 3
First Sonata for violin and piano, Op.12 (1872) [35:23]
Trois Pièces en quatuor Op. 64 (1898) [10:55]
Deux Pièces Op. 21 (1892) [8:24]
Mélodie Op. 6 (1868) [5:13]
Canzonetta Op. 39 No. 8 (1904) [4:24]
Deuxième Mazurka de Benjamin Godard, Op.54 (1881, transcr. Boisdeffre, 1887) [5:04]
Andrzej Kacprzak (violin)
Anna Mikolon (piano)
Krzysztof Komendarek-Tymendorf (viola)
Adam Garnecki (cello)
rec. 2020/21, Akademia Muzyczna im. Staisława Moniuszki w Gdańsku

The painterly art of René de Boisdeffre has been well represented on Acte Préalable and if I can add correctly this is the sixteenth volume devoted to his chamber compositions. Those that I have heard suggest that he was an affable and refined composer, subtle and generously lyrical but in larger scale sonata form not always able to distribute material quite so effectively. However, my last encounter with him was the second volume in this violin sub series (AP0513) where his Third Violin Sonata made a much bigger and altogether more complete case for this element of his chamber composition. With this latest volume we step back in time to his First Violin Sonata of 1872.

His affability can be measured from the way he sets up a rather perky piano line to which the violin responds with rather intimate replies. Themes are attractive, the first movement’s development section well ordered. In the scherzo the procedure is reversed, the violin sounding almost folkloric, the piano’s fulsome replies again pointing up an amusing disparity in their positions. There’s a more serious element in the slow movement, the heart of the work, with the High Romanticism of its B section deepening the music’s resolve. For the finale there’s a breezy, Mozartian elegance, confident and engaging.

Trois Pièces en quatuor is cast for piano quartet and encodes some echo effects between the instruments and some sonorous tonal breadth but in the main this is the de Boisdeffre that has appeared so often in this series – an adept miniaturist who shows in his morceaux that he has a lyric gift in the genre. This is reinforced by his place in recorded history. The only commercial recording of his violin music up to the 1990s of which I’m aware was of his Au bord, du ruisseau (known as the Sérènade champêtre), which made a few appearances on 78s.

The Romance and Canzonetta that form the Deux Pièces Op. 21 of 1892 offer the expected contrast, though the former is ultra-lyrical, the latter being a droll dance with a rather unexpectedly Hungarian quality. Mélodie Op. 6 is an early work that pre-dates the First Violin Sonata and was originally cast for viola, whilst the Canzonetta, Op.39 No.8 pirouettes graciously. The last piece is something of an anomaly, perhaps, though interesting to hear; his transcription of Benjamin Godard’s Second Mazurka, published six years after the mazurka appeared on the market.

As with so many of these releases the sonata provides the ballast for the ensuing morceaux and other pieces. This works well. I can’t pretend that this disc is as impressive as the one that contains the Third Sonata – by far the strongest Boisdeffre work that I’ve yet heard – but it has some attractive things in it, is well annotated and recorded, and sensitively played by the Kacprzak-Mikolonduo duo and, in the quartet, their two string colleagues.

The man from Lorraine, who largely abjured Parisian and other hotspots, continues to be lovingly supported in this series.

Jonathan Woolf

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