Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:

Quintet for piano and winds (1898) 26.26
Le Tombeau de Couperin 17.06
Pavane pour une Infante Défunte 5.11
Ma Mère l'Oye 15.18
(all three Ravel pieces transcribed by David Walter)
Claire Désert (piano) Quintette Moraguès rec Lausanne, 24-27 June 1999
LE CHANT DU MONDE LDC 2781116 [65.10]

Caplet is best known because of his association with Debussy. He orchestrated Debussy's Children's Corner, Pagodes, Suite bergamasque - Clair de lune and scored and conducted the premiere of Martyre de Saint-Sébastien. He completed Gigues and Boîte à Joujoux and made a piano arrangement of La Mer. He conducted Pelléas at Covent Garden in 1912. Caplet died of lung disease attributed to the severe gassing he suffered as a young recruit in the French Imperial Army in 1914.

The quintette (here seemingly receiving its world premiere performance although I cannot absolutely vouch for that) is quite unDebussyan in its vigorous spirit lifted by both Tchaikovsky and Beethoven as well as lighter Gallic influences. The second movement manages to be both reflective and sturdy. The turn of Caplet's phrases might suggest that Ravel had heard the quintet before writing his Pavane. Caplet is a composer of serious moment and fine invention - not at all (on this evidence) impressionistic. The confident lilt and swing of the finale is nostalgic and optimistic in tone with a surprising reminiscence of Brahms Third Symphony (mind you he attended many concerts conducted by Mottl and Nikisch while in Berlin and Dresden in 1901).

The Ravel pieces are most graciously arranged and tartly pointed with yearning and affection by Désert and Quintette Moraguès. The Menuet of Tombeau struck me as curiously reminscent of Holst's roughly contemporaneous Saturn. The Rigaudon does not go with the infectious zip that I associate with the best orchestral performances. These pieces are well known even if unknown (on record) in these skilled and thoughtful versions. For all the strengths of the Ravel pieces part of me rather laments that Le Chant du Monde did not give us some more Caplet instead.

Notes are fine and recording is close without quite breathing down your neck. The effect is very agreeable.


Rob Barnett


Rob Barnett

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