Pierre-Octave Ferroud was a short-lived French composer who died in a car
accident in Hungary. A Lyonnais he wrote as a music critic for Le Soir and
with his ensemble Triton he introduced much contemporary music to international
audiences. A number of his works were premiered by Pierre Monteux. His music
stylistically lies between the French romantics like Ropartz and Tournemire
and the extra-sec neo-classicists.
The 24 second Waltonian Sonnerie is a tartly clashing fanfare written for
a French Radio production of Victor Hugo’s Cromwell. It was Ferroud’s last
The Symphony in A Major is three movement work spanning 25 minutes It has
much of Honegger’s bustle and bubbling energy with some Prokofiev and other
Russian influences which he perhaps picked up from Tournemire’s Moscow symphony.
There is repose too with chirping birdsong. Some of this is Stravinskian
but not dry. It also has some Copland-like brightness. The andante is sometimes
funereal, sometimes bucolically Stravinskian. There are occasional wild whoops
from the brass; altogether sweepingly unpredictable. It sometimes sounds
like Roy Harris in his ‘Ruralia America’ mode, perhaps imbibed from Boulanger.
The finale Allegro con brio is brilliant suffused with flashing and thrusting
energy. It receives an urgent spur from the conductor.
The Sarabande is music-box like with a gentleness drawing on the Forlane
dance form and itself modelled on Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin. This work
was the vehicle for Ferroud coming to the attention of the French musical
public. It was written first for piano duet.
The Eventail march (recorded previously by Chandos amongst others) is part
of a collaborative work. It is half jolly - half stern, with flashes of Prokofiev
in his best but still slightly annoying absurdist mode as in the opera The
Love Of Three Oranges.
The Dreamy three movement serenade opens with a Ravelian Berceuse. There
is an icy edge to the melodic element. Then follows a romantic grand Pavane
with much clock-ticking and bell-tolling sound images. Finally there is a
most unspiritual Spiritual. It is skittishly playful with jazz age moments.
This is serious light music or light serious music. In any event it closes
The Chirurgie Suite is based on music written for a play by Chekhov. It opens
in a satisfying mystery like something from the necromancer’s cave. There
is a hint of Mussorgsky and the exotic east (so beloved of the French - viz
Roussel). This resolves into a careworn march with wrong-note harmony and
There are quite a few resemblances to Louis Aubert’s style. Aubert’s toweringly
impressive (and not to be missed) sea sketch Le Tombeau de Chateaubriand
is on Marco Polo 8.223531. (We need more Aubert please).
The final Andante Cordial is ethereal and Ravelian evoking summers in the
long grass and an unchained playfulness. Cordial - yes - heart-reviving music;
simple but not simple-minded.
The notes are full and informative as befits an issue of almost totally unknown
music. They are in English, German and French The writer is Ruth Melkis-Behler.
A recommended issue. Once again Marco Polo push out the bounds of French
music. The cover is attractively adorned with Camille Pissaro’s The Avenue
de Opéra under Morning Snow.