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Modern Times

Program

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) (transcription David Walter)

Le Tombeau de Couperin, M. 68a:
  - I. Prélude.
  - II. Forlane.
  - III. Menuet.
  - IV. Rigaudon.

Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)

Sextet for piano and winds, Op. 100:
  - I. Allegro vivace.
  - II. Divertissement.
  - III. Finale.

Jean Françaix (1912-1997)

L'heure du berger:
  - I. Les Vieux Beaux.
  - II. Pin-up Girls.
  - III. Les petits nerveux.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) (transcription David Walter)

Adagio from piano concerto in G major, M. 83.

Harmonie du soir, ensemble.

Musicstry Studios: TRT® sound (calibration 2.2c). Recorded: September 1, 2 2019. Released: January 30 2020. Photo: Natasha Lebedeva. Liner notes: José Luis García del Busto. Producer: Mario Martínez. PC19001 ℗ & © 2020 PlayClassics.

French music for piano and wind quintet

Maurice Ravel: Le Tombeau de Couperin, M. 68a.

Ravel began the composition of his Tombeau in 1914, when Europe entered the first great war, which caused the interruption of the work. Our musician, in his day declared "useless" by the militia for his short stature and weak complexion, wanted to participate and contributed to the French army his ability as a driver, but some illness and the depression caused his mother's death, made him soon to be exempt from any war obligation, at which time he returned to his abandoned work to complete Le tombeau de Couperin in 1918. However, it is not a "tragic" work. It could be considered as the very personal and pioneering Ravelian contribution to the neoclassicist trend that had such relevance in musical Europe between wars; In addition, as Ravel himself was responsible for clarifying, it was not so much to recreate the great Couperin as to pay a generic tribute to the musical tradition of the French Baroque. But the experiences of those months, of course, had to be reflected in some way in the score and, thus, each of the six pieces that make up Le tombeau de Couperin in his first piano writing is dedicated to an acquaintance of Ravel fallen during the first World War. The great pianist Margueritte Long premiered the composition at the Salle Gaveau in Paris once the war ended, on April 11, 1919, at one of the concerts of the Independent Musical Society.

Shortly after, and as usual, Ravel presented an orchestral version of the work in which he displayed his incomparable mastery of timbres to enhance expressiveness and provide another sound dimension to his music. It was on February 28, 1920, in the Parisian Concerts Pasdeloup, under the direction of Rhené-Baton. But this orchestral version - contrary to what usually happens in the case of Ravel - does not coincide exactly with the original piano version, since the Fugue and the Toccata were pieces considered by the composer as essentially pianistic, not orchestral. And the other four were grouped with an alteration in order, thus being: Prélude, Forlane, Menuet and Rigaudon. And this is the disposition that presents the adaptation for sextet, made by David Walter, which is presented on this CD.

David Walter is a prestigious oboist, founding member of the Moragues Quintet and a plural musician with relevant activity in the fields of teaching, orchestral conducting and composition. What stands out especially is his enormous work as an arranger, with more than a thousand instrumental adaptations of scores of all kinds: in this recording we will find two splendid examples of this work, made on Ravel's own works. It is worth noting the admirable cameristic sense that the results show in both cases.

Francis Poulenc: Sextet for piano and winds, Op. 100.

This singular Sextet, for piano and the traditional wind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, horn and bassoon), dates from the 1939-40 season, although this is rather the date of the revision and final version of a score that the young French composer had written in 1932. The work would be premiered in the Chopin Hall of the French capital, on December 9, 1940, with the Paris Wind Quintet and Poulenc himself on piano. It responds to the neoclassicist trend, very present at the moment, as well as to the musical gestures that best define the proposals of that avant-garde group that, emulating the famous Russian nationalist group, was called the "group of Six" and which was composed of Francis Poulenc, Darius Milhaud, Arthur Honegger, Georges Auric, Germaine Tailleferre and Louis Durey. These composers relied on ideas and proposals of Jean Cocteau, and for them the ingenious composer (and scathing writer, lecturer and critic) Erik Satie acted as a kind of older brother.

The Sextet is part of the abundant and very remarkable chamber works that Francis Poulenc wrote with the prominence of woodwind instruments. The sound course of the work is fluid, carefree, easy, loose ... The instrumental writing is of the highest trade. The mood is expressive, positive and bright. The form, as rigorous as it is concise, recreates traditional molds: three movements, two allegros and a slow central movement, but, of course, the substance is new, it is by Poulenc, and even from this purely formal point of view there is a simple, and at the same time accused, contribution: the two fast movements reproduce, in turn, the global scheme of the work, because they contain an intermediate slow section, that reproduces the fast-slow-fast scheme; Meanwhile, the slow movement - a Divertimento that stands on the axis of the Sextet - seems to be the “negative” of this approach, since it introduces a quick section in its center, presenting therefore the formal aspect slow-fast-slow. These symmetry games, as well as the expressive unity of the work, are reinforced by thematic allusion, in the last movement, to themes handled in the previous ones.

Jean Françaix: L'heure du berger.

Jean Françaix was born in Mans, in a family professionally dedicated to music: his father ran the Mans Conservatory and his mother was a singer. Jean's musical predisposition was such that at six he began to compose. Then he formally studied piano and composition, being a disciple in this matter of Nadia Boulanger. At twenty years of age he drew attention to the premiere of a notable concertino for piano and orchestra. Françaix cultivated a refined and elegant music, aligned with the neoclassicist trend and conceived, according to the words of his colleague and friend Francis Poulenc, "to give pleasure".

In Françaix's catalog, works for wind instruments abound, and one of them is L’heure du berger, for piano and wind quintet. He wrote it in 1947 in honor of the Parisian restaurant of that name and with the idea of providing friendly, entertaining and good-natured music that was suitable as a sound background for dinners and gatherings that took place there. They are three short and delicious pieces of music that we could describe as humorous, neatly written, with clear reminiscences of the cabaret and music hall and that are heard with a smile.

Maurice Ravel: Adagio from piano concerto in G major, M. 83.

Work of the period between the two great European wars, the Concert in G major was composed between 1929 and 1931 for the pianist Marguerite Long, a great scholar, diffuser and defender of Ravel's pianistic music, as was our Ricardo Viñes. The Concert was premiered at the Pleyel Hall in Paris on January 14, 1932, in the course of a “Ravel festival” starring the Lamoureux Concert Orchestra, in which the Portuguese maestro Pedro de Freitas Branco conducted the Dafnis suite and Cloe and the Spanish Rhapsody, while Ravel himself wielded the baton to interpret Pavana for a deceased infanta, the Bolero and the aforementioned premiere of his Concert.

In Spain, Ravel's orchestral music had a magnificent defender: maestro Pérez Casas. And, indeed, it was he, with his Philharmonic Orchestra of Madrid, who was immediately interested in making the work known here, a few months after its absolute premiere. The event took place on May 2 and had Leopoldo Querol as a piano soloist. The success was so great that the last movement was repeated as an encore, but perhaps it was not as enthusiastic as the reception of the work in the media. The most lucid Spanish music critic of the time, Adolfo Salazar, in the newspaper "El Sol" wrote an enthusiastic article from which we extract some reference to the Adagio del Concierto: "the Adagio that, of course, only Ravel could sign, is (... ) a miracle, certainly, with its immense flow of melody, its inexhaustible flow of a song incomparably sustained in its lyricism (...) More admirable still by the freedom of form, by that sensation of music released from all obstacles, as indeed, some Bach arias (...) or some of Beethoven's inspirations in the last sonatas and the last quartets (...) Music in itself and in its sound manifestation that seems to lack body (...) Greater transparency, greater sensation of volatile essence , of weightless flight, barely remembered in any other music ”...

On the other hand, the first interpreter of the work, Marguerite Long, referring to the ineffable Adagio wrote: “The work is hard, but the movement that gave me more work was the second, apparently without complications. One day I communicated to Ravel the anxiety that caused me to have to exhibit on a piano solo, after all the fantasy and the orchestral verve of the first time, that long, very long melody making me sing, and holding in such a slow movement , that great phrase that flows ”...

José Luis García del Busto

Harmonie du soir

Wind ensemble formed by Enrique Bernaldo de Quirós (piano), Mayte Abargues (flute), Carlos Fortea (oboe), Silvia Insa (clarinet), Josep Tatay (bassoon) and José Fco. Fortea (french horn).

The metaphorical use of Baudelaire's poetry gives its name to Harmonie du soir Ensemble, a play on words that Baudelaire dedicates to music in his well-known poetic work "Les fleurs du mal". We also wanted to make a nod to the famous wind instrument ensembles of the Mozart and Beethoven era called Harmoniemusik.

This ensemble gets together in early 2017 at the initiative of Quintet Lluís Vives and pianist Enrique Bernaldo de Quirós, all of them professionally active in Mallorca, with the intention of deepening the repertoire for wind and piano instruments.

Harmonie du soir Ensemble is usually present regularly in concert halls, chamber music cycles and most important Festivals in the Balearic Islands. In February 2019 they release what will be their first record work containing the wind and piano quintets of Mozart and Beethoven under the PlayClassics record label.

The repertoire of this ensemble includes a careful selection, from a young and modern perspective, of all ages and styles, from classicism to avant-garde.

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