This album comprises reissues of material first
released back in 1962 on L’Oiseau-Lyre and Decca. We start with
the much admired recording of Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro
with Osian Ellis and the Melos Ensemble. This enchanting work, like
most others featuring the harp has a wistful, other-worldly or delicate
feminine character. The woodwinds weave patterns suggestive of bird
flight and birdsong while the emotional drift is left to harp and strings.
Similar to Ravel’s witchery, is Debussy’s
for flute, viola and harp. Of it the composer commented, “It is
terribly sad and I don’t know whether one ought to laugh or cry.
Perhaps both.” It is delicate, haunted and sensual and the Ellis/Melos
reading is justly celebrated. Both works were released on a Decca CD,
421 154-2 together with sonatas for violin and piano by Franck and Debussy.
The Alto booklet reminds us that all the works on this CD except the
Boieldieu were originally released in LP format on L’Oiseau-Lyre
Roussel’s Sérénade for flute, string trio and
commences with an Allegro
that has a tune that one might
wonder where it has been heard before. It is stated against flaky pizzicatos
and staccato bowings. This quirky work is dedicated to Réné
le Roy, an eminent flautist. Indeed the flute has a major solo role
especially in the rather morose but interesting Andante
movement. The harp pictures, perhaps, some sort of precipitation - rain,
snow or sleet - as a background to the cello’s sad song embroidered
by violin and flute. The Presto finale brings welcome relief with the
instruments eager, it seems, to depart the foregoing despair.
The Ropartz shows the influence of César Franck and Breton music.
It is sweetly outdoor music. The Prelude
is expressively pastoral,
sunny and serene and affectionately nostalgic. Marine
calm seas, glinting waters and hovering seagulls while the Chansons
third movement is more animated and elated. It probably owes much to
popular Breton music.
Boieldieu was born in Rouen in 1775 some three years after Mozart had
composed his popular concerto for flute and harp. The present work is
very Mozartian in character beginning in a grandiose manner before the
harp’s delicate filigree and a pleasant catchy little melody.
The middle Andante
is darker, almost funereal. The harp’s
tread is dejected and mournful with only slight respite from the gloom
as the harp remembers slightly happier times. High spirits are regained
with the Rondeau
last movement, marked Allegro agitato
The harp rejoices in a likeable bouncy and sprightly dance.
Another, always welcome reissue of a delightful clutch of French music.
Had it not been so, it would have been one of my Recordings of the Month.
See also review by Rob