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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Gabriel Pierné - Chamber Music Vol. 2


Composer: Gabriel Pierné

  1. Caprice for cello & piano, Op. 16
  2. Sonata for cello & piano, Op. 46
  3. Expansion for cello & piano, Op. 21
  4. Trio for violon, cello & piano, Op. 45: 1. Agité
  5. Trio for violon, cello & piano, Op. 45: 2. Allegretto scherzando
  6. Trio for violon, cello & piano, Op. 45: 3. Modérément lent
  1. Impromptu-Caprice for harp, Op. 9
  2. Variations libre et final, for flute, harp & string trio, Op. 51
  3. Introduction et variations sur une ronde populaire, for saxophones quartet
  4. Voyage au pays du Tendre, for flute, harp & string trio
  5. Sonata for flute & piano, Op. 36: 1. Allegretto
  6. Sonata for flute & piano, Op. 36: 2. Allegretto tranquilo
  7. Sonata for flute & piano, Op. 36: 3. Allegro un poco agitato
  8. Trois Pièces en trio: 1. Dédicace sur le nom des frères Pasquier
  9. Trois Pièces en trio: 2. Chanson
  10. Trois Pièces en trio: 3. Les trois clercs de Saint-Nicholas

Soloists of the Luxemburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Haoxing Liang, violin
Kris Landsverk, viola
Aleksandr Khramouchin & Vincent Gérin, cellos
Markus Brönnimann, flutes
Catherine Beynon, harp
Quatuor de saxophones de Luxembourg
Guy Goethals, Paul Origer, Marco Pütz & Roland Schneider
Christian Ivaldi, piano

Date: 2006
Label: Timpani



Where Volume 1 of Timpani’s Pierné chamber works intégral presented him largely as a purveyor of superior salon fare and “master of charms” second only to Fauré, this second and final volume provides the shadow of so much gaiety, allure, and fluff in the extensive Cello Sonata and, above all, the Piano Trio, which, taken with the Piano Quintet heard in Volume 1, comprise a musical anatomy of melancholy—chronic (the single movement Cello Sonata playing for over 20 minutes, the Trio’s first movement for 19), depressive (major key turnarounds laced with wry wistfulness), and obsessive (the Quintet’s final zortziko movement, the Trio’s 3+3+2 rhythmic ostinato Scherzando ). There is no Beethovenian fist-shaking, nor other histrionics, but darkness conveyed with a deft, light touch and astonishing invention that keep one’s attention—once you’ve put aside expectations of the usual crisis and overcoming program—consistently on the stretch. If ever you’ve been in the grip of depression, these scarcely known works will seem oddly familiar, a traversal of that peculiar country of the soul. And the bonbons are more substantial—and more extensive—than those in Volume 1. Beside the brief Caprice and Expansion , both for cello and piano, or the winning Impromptu-Caprice for harp, the Variations libres et final , for flute, harp, and strings, the Introduction et variations sur un thème populaire for saxophone quartet, or the pithy Trois Pièces en trio , afford equal measures of substance and delight. And with the Voyage au pays de Tendre —all episodic charm, wholly delectable—we meet the graciously urbane Pierné one last time.

For completeness, the “Flute Sonata”—the composer’s transcription, almost certainly at his publisher’s insistence, of the popular Violin Sonata—is included, though the temptation to hustle it to avoid breaking the line by taking breath makes for a choppy, chirpy tilt, its sinuous melodic flair compelled to hop and skip rather than soar and sing. The upshot is similar to Philippe Koch’s slashing way with the violin part in Volume 1 (Timpani 1110, Fanfare 30:6), to which one may well prefer the warmer, more lyrically relaxed account of Gaëtane Prouvost, with Laurent Cabasso (Inetgral Classic 221.153) in an ingratiating all-Pierné program. Christian Ivaldi’s piano swaddles, and occasionally swamps, flutist Markus Brönnimann’s thin silver—it is revealing to turn back to Jean-Pierre Rampal’s even more peremptory 1973 reading with Pierre Barbizet, whose lighter touch and sparing use of the sustaining pedal made for both a transparent accompaniment and a genuine partnership. A perhaps too searching go at the Cello Sonata by Mats Lidström, with Bengt Forsberg (Hyperion 66979, Fanfare 22:1), is persuasively overtopped by Ivaldi and Aleksandr Khramouchin. And, unless I’ve missed something, this Liang/Khramouchin/Ivaldi performance of the Piano Trio is the first since the 1988 disc premiere go at it by Béla Bánfalvi, Katalin Vass, and Norbert Szelecsényi (long gone Marco Polo 8.223189, Fanfare 14:1)—both superb performances animating every bar of a work which must seem, at first blush, overlong, while rendering the score’s tricky rhythmic quirks with expressive point. The remaining performances are, without exception, winning. As in Volume 1, sound is so immediately upfront that one hears the players’ fingerwork, but also well balanced, closely detailed, and gutsy. The twin open-out sleeve encloses another booklet featuring companionable, extensive, and richly informed annotations by Jacques Tchamkerten. Rarely does such an intégral succeed so well. Here is Pierné—pithy and sweet—entering the Pantheon in which Saint-Saëns, Franck, Fauré, Magnard, Debussy, and Ravel have their niches. A gaping gap indispensably filled. Recommended with enthusiasm and admiration. 

-- Adrian Corleonis, FANFARE

More review:


Gabriel Pierné (16 August 1863 – 17 July 1937) was a French composer, conductor, and organist. He succeeded César Franck as organist at Saint Clotilde Basilica in Paris from 1890 to 1898. As a conductor, he conducted the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird, at the Ballets Russes, Paris, on 25 June 1910. Pierné wrote several operas and choral and symphonic pieces, as well as a good deal of chamber music. His discovery and promotion of the work of Ernest Fanelli in 1912 led to a controversy over the origins of impressionist music.


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