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Recordings to celebrate the world of the oboe


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The French Accent CD cover
More French music: Archive France1 CD cover The Oboe 1903-1953 CD cover Francaix CD cover

(click underlined movements to hear MP3 format sound clips)
Francis Poulenc (courtesy ChesterNovello.com)

Francis Poulenc: Trio (written 1926, recorded 1928)
       Lent, Presto - Andante - Rondo
Ludwig Thuille: Gavotte from the Sextet (written 1887, recorded 1929)
      Andante, quasi Allegretto
Georges Auric: Trio (written c.1938, recorded 1938)
      Décidé - Romance - Final
Albert Roussel: Divertissement, op.6 (written 1906, recorded 1955)
      Animé - Lent - Animé - Lent - Animé
Marguerite Roesgen-Champion: Pastorale (recorded 1936)
      Pastorale - Introduction à la Valse sentimentale - Rondo
Jacques Hotteterre: Suite/Sonata in D (written 1715, recorded 1950)
      Prélude - Allemande - Courante - Grave - Gigue
Pierre-Octave Ferroud: Trio (written 1933, recorded 1936)
      Allegro moderato - Allegretto grazioso - Quasi Presto
Igor Stravinsky: Pastorale (written/arranged 1907/1933, recorded 1933)
André Jolivet: Sérénade avec hautbois principal (written 1945, recorded 1958)
      Cantilene - Caprice - Intermède - Marche Burlesque
Jules Massenet: "La Troyenne regrettant sa patrie", Les Erinnyes (written 1873, recorded 1931)

Total Time 76:56

The 24-page CD booklet has a 6,000 word programme note in English by oboist and scholar Geoffrey Burgess, including an essay on the milieu that produced this fertile outpouring of French wind writing and playing.

"French music is clarity, elegance and simple and natural declamation; above all, French music wants to please."
Claude Debussy, writing in La Revue bleue

Introduction to the booklet notes by Geoffrey Burgess:

Geoffrey Burgess, photo Michele Corbman Over the course of the first half of the 20th century, the banks of the Seine overflowed with a confluence of cosmopolitan musical influences. Audiences at Paris' theatres and concert halls heard a succession of three musical styles. First came the uniquely French take on late Romantic tradition which wove its thread in the gossamer of Impressionist tones from Debussy, Ravel and others, across the elegance of the Belle Epoche; next entered the vanguard of anti-Romantic, Neo-Classical composers - Stravinsky, Roussel and a younger generation of musicians including those known as Les Six; and finally the Modernism of La Jeune France reared its head hard on the heels of World War II with Jolivet and Messiaen. Add to these the no less significant presence of exotic influences: Parisian nightclubs and cabarets were alive with American Ragtime and Jazz, while music from the Near and Far East imported for the World Fairs permeated the concert hall.

This was the musical soundscape of Paris; the real musique d'ameublement (a term coined by Erik Satie and translated loosely as 'wallpaper music'). Each of these styles is represented in the works assembled in this anthology. But, as the earliest tracks were recorded at the end of the 1920s when the true Romantic performing aesthetic was already all but lost, we hear the 19th-century music played by interpreters more closely identified with the Neo-Classicists who actively sought to curb what were seen as Romanticism's emotional indulgences.

The gradual shift in performance style was so bound up with developments in audio technology, that in many instances it is hard to tell which influenced the other. The new, slick and sassy approach of Poulenc, Stravinsky and their colleagues coincided with the switch from acoustic to electric sound recording techniques and had a decisive impact on the progress of musical performance in the 20th century. The microphone proved far more sensitive than the horns formerly used to collect the musical vibrations, and was able to capture a wider frequency band, and a broader range of dynamic gradations. However, recordings made between the wars still seem worlds away from the style we are accustomed to today. Current style, defined largely by the post-1945 generation of players and record producers, took the Neo-Classical aesthetic a step further to create an ultra-modern, almost mechanical approach where technical perfection was often achieved at the expense of beauty of sound, graceful expression, and inspired interpretation.

The Performers:

The Quintette à Vent Français The photo shows the The Quintette à Vent Français, L to R: Pierre Pierlot (oboe), Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute), Jacques Lancelot (clarinet), Gilbert Coursier (horn) and Paul Hongne (bassoon). They perform the Roussel with Robert Veyron-Lacroix (piano) and the Jolivet. Pierre Pierlot also performs the Hotteterre with Pauline Aubert (harpsichord).

The Trio d'Anches de Paris - Myrtile Morel (oboe), Pierre Lefebvre (clarinet) and Fernand Oubradous (bassoon) - perform the Auric and Ferroud.

Marguerite Roesgen-Champion plays the piano in her Pastorale, with Louis Bleuzet (oboe) and Auguste Cruque (cello).

Francis Poulenc plays the piano in his Trio, with Roland Lamorlette (oboe) and Gustave Dherin (bassoon).

In the shorter pieces, the Thuille sextet movement is played by the Société Taffanel des Instruments à vent: René Le Roy (flute), Louis Bas (oboe), Achille Gras (clarinet), Edouard Hénon (bassoon) and Jules Vialet (horn), with Erwin Schulhoff (piano). The Stravinsky is played by Louis Gromer (oboe), Georges Durand (cor anglais), André Vacellier (clarinet), Gabriel Grandmaison (bassoon) and Samuel Dushkin (violin). The Massenet is played by Louis Gaudard (oboe) and Maurice Marechal (cello), with an orchestra conducted by Elie Cohen.

Marguerite Roesgen-Champion

Press Comment

"A sumptuous booklet... a cornerstone of both performance and repertoire and greatly to be welcomed." Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International.
You can read the whole review here.

"Clean remastering... results in a collection well worth the listening. This is a work of genuine import, and attractively complements Dr. Burgess' other effort in this genre [The Oboe 1903-1953]." Michael Finkelman, The Double Reed (US)

"The overwhelming effect is that of an open door into a distant world of inspired creation, elegant French woodwind playing, and a chance to hear how these pieces were performed at their inception." Stephen Colburn, The Double Reed (US). You can read the whole review

Listener Comment

"This is the most interesting CD I've listened to in a long time."
Stuart Russell, UK

"Booklet very interesting, Music very, very interesting - good publication. Bravo Bis!" Alain Girard, Switzerland

"I have always admired the elegant playing of Myrtile Morel... and I do not believe I've ever heard a bona fide example of the famous Louis Bas. The major revelation for me, however, was Louis Gaudard. With his playing (as of course also Bleuzet), one hears the influence of their great teacher Georges Gillet, who was also venerated by my teacher, Marcel Tabuteau." Laila Storch, USA

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