Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1892-1983)
Chamber Ensemble conducted by Nicole A. Paiement
Porter String Quartet
Leta Miller (flute) and Irene Herrmann (Piano)
Chansons Populaires Françaises
Patrice Maginnis (soprano) with Chamber Ensemble conducted by Nicole A. Paiement
Sonata for Harp
Jennifer Cass (harp)
Deux Valses
Irene Herrmann and Michael McGuishin (pianos)
Karen Baccaro (trumpet) and Michael McGuishin (piano)
HELICON HE 1008 [51:57]
Amazon US

This is a very welcome album of music by the only woman composer of the French group of 20th century composers known as Les Six (the others were: Darius Milhaud, Louis Durey, Georges Auric, Arthur Honegger, and Francis Poulenc). This recording was made in 1992 at the Performing Arts Concert Hall at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The concert opens with the enchanting six-minute piece Images for flute, clarinet, celeste, piano and string quartet written in 1918. This is a lovely impressionistic piece enriched by exotic oriental figures exploiting polyharmony, polytonality and clusters. It has the all delicacy of Chinese art on silk. Quatuor for two violins, viola and cello is another charming work cast in three short movements, dancing in character. In it, classical forms are broken occasionally by discretely placed harmonic frictions. Thus the first movement's warmth and coyness is ruffled slightly, the middle movement's nostalgia remains untouched while the harsher world of the finale erupts into a tarantella.

The short Forlane has classical refinement with the piano shaping gliding, lilting figures before the piece's slight dissonances transport it up to an intense climax. Another very charming work is Tailleferre's Sonata for Harp (1957) that demonstrates her considerable skill and sensitivity in writing for this instrument. It is very reminiscent of Domenico Scarlatti especially in the guitar effects of the slow, melancholy tango in the second movement. A lovely work this, and worth the price of the CD alone for this beguiling performance by Jennifer Cass. The Two Waltzes for two pianos were composed in 1962. The first, rather sad, slow waltz, has a simple, rather sparse melodic line, while the second is much more sparkling. Galliarde for trumpet and piano (1972) is Poulenc-like in its treatment and insouciance.

The concert also includes Tailleferre's Chansons Populaires Françaises (1952-55) - five songs for soprano and chamber ensemble. They are sung by Patrice Maginnis who has a very pleasing, light lyric soprano voice, ideal for these folkloric songs. 'La Pernette se lève' (The Maiden Awakes) is a spinning song with the consequent repetitive rhythms which are abandoned for darker more tragic material when it is disclosed that the poor girl is grieving for her lover who has been sentenced to death. 'Mon Père toujours me crie' (My father always told me) is a comic song about how a young girl detests her elderly husband's snoring and pinching. She reckons he should be "thrown down a well". 'Jean de la Réole' seems to have a slovenly wife who the singer wants to take in hand and wash and comb her hair. It has much bucolic charm but so, too, does 'L'autre jour en m'y promenant' (The other day, while strolling). This song is rather more racy with much double entendre. Finally, 'En revenant de Nantes' (Returning from Nantes) is a jolly inconsequential little number about daffodils bouncing about in the singers pocket while she dances.

A very unusual concert but highly recommended

Ian Lace

Return to Index

Reviews from previous months

You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: - The UK's Biggest Video Store Concert and Show tickets
Musicians accessories
Click here to visit