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Recordings to celebrate the world of the oboe

            Vive la Différence      CC2035
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Vive la différence CD cover
More French music: Très Françaix CD cover More English music: An English Renaissance CD cover Rutland Boughton 'for Joyance' CD cover


Jean-Michel Damase: Trio (1961)
         Molto moderato; Allegretto con spirito;
        Allegro scherzando; Moderato; Andante

Lili Boulanger: D'un Matin de Printemps (1918)
        (première recording in this arrangement)
Jacques Ibert: Deux Interludes (1946)
        Andante espressivo; Allegro vivo
Frederick Delius: Intermezzo from 'Fennimore & Gerda' (1910)
Gordon Jacob: Trio (1958)
         Allegro; Adagio;
        Allegro - poco meno mosso - Tempo I; Allegro molto

Edward Naylor: Trio (1924) (première recording)
Eugene Goossens: Pastoral and Harlequinade (1924)

Videos: the whole album (including rehearsal footage); the last movement of the Damase; and the Boulanger.

The 12-page booklet includes a discussion of these works and their British and French contexts.
The total time of the album is 61 minutes.

Anthony Robb studied flute at the Guildhall School of Music with Peter Lloyd and Edward Beckett, and on leaving was appointed principal flute with the BBC Radio Orchestra at the age of 23.
Described by the Times as "a glorious individual player", his career has ranged from playing principal flute in all of London's Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, to solo performances with the Hall&ecute;, BBC Concert Orchestra, Sinfonia 21 and the Academy of St Martins in the Fields among others. He has performed concertos by Mozart, Bach, Telemann, Malcolm Arnold, Howard Blake, John Rutter and Vivaldi.
In the commercial world Anthony has been involved in recording soundtracks for many films and television programmes, as well as playing for West End shows.
As a chamber musician Anthony has worked with groups such as London Winds, The St Magnus Trio and the London Symphony Chamber Ensemble.
With Jeremy Polmear he has recorded four CDs of chamber music on the Oboe Classics and Ambache labels, including 'Liberté, Egalit&eacte;, Sororité' (AMB2606), of which the Gramophone commented "Scènes de la forêt [by Mel Bonis] is really a work for flute and two accompanists rather than a unified trio, and Anthony Robb shines in it, as indeed he also does in Tailleferre's Concertino."
Jeremy Polmear, described by the Gramophone as "a sympathetic, musicianly artist" is the founder of Oboe Classics, and has played on six of its 35 main titles. With the pianist Diana Ambache he has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room in London; and in 33 countries on five continents, including programmes of Words and Music in the Gulf with Billie Whitelaw, in Australia with Susannah York and around the UK with Jenny Agutter. They have also given courses for Business Schools, using the Arts as a management training tool.
Jeremy has played with a number of London's chamber and ballet orchestras, including the London Mozart Players and the City of London Sinfonia.
His interest in English and French music is long-standing: he has recorded a CD of Vaughan Williams, Rubbra, Britten, Arnold, Bowen and Dring on the Unicorn-Kanchana label ('Sweet Melancholy', DKPC9121) and Jean Françaix on his own label ('Très Françaix', Oboe Classics CC2020). He has also made the première recording of Jean-Michel Damase's Trio with horn ('Music for oboe, horn and piano', Oboe Classics CC2022).
Of his recording of Claude Arrieu's Trio d'anches ('Liberté, Egalité, Sororité', AMB2606), the Guardian commented that it "could not be any more French if it were shrugging at you over a pastis."
Michael Bell is described by the Gramophone as having a "thoughtful brand of virtuosity". He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derryck Wyndham and Sulamita Aronovsky, and received the Chopin Fellowship award from the Polish Government, enabling further study at the State Academy of Music in Warsaw. Subsequent prizes in national and international competitions led to numerous live concert performances and broadcasts on radio and TV throughout Europe, Australia and Africa.
Michael has recorded solo works by Haydn, Grieg, Janacek and Tchaikovsky, and four CDs of British music with clarinettist Victoria Samek including Joseph Horovitz and the complete duo works for clarinet and piano by Richard Rodney Bennett on the Clarinet Classics label. The Italian label Sheva has issued a recording of Granados and de Falla alongside a new cycle of Alhambra-influenced piano pieces by Peter Seabourne; he is also in demand as a Lieder recitalist.
Michael Bell has over 30 Concertos in his repertoire, including performances of the complete cycle of Beethoven Concertos. Of a performance of Maurice Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, The Guardian commented "...his performance was a brilliant technical achievement - but more than that a convincing characterisation."

An introduction to the Programme Notes by Jeremy Polmear:

" la musique française, c'est la clarté, l'élégance, la déclamation simple et naturelle ; la musique française veut, avant tout, faire plaisir " [French music is clarity, elegance and simple and natural declaration; above all, French music wants to please.] Claude Debussy

"I am drawn to English music because it reflects the climate and the vegetation which know no sharp edges... it is a very human music, not given to shattering utterances, to human emotion in the abstract, but to a single person's experience." Yehudi Menuhin

The musical cultures of Britain and France in the mid-twentieth century were very different. France was ever moving away from German Romanticism, first with the Impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, then with the revolution of Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau and Les Six, the presence of Stravinsky, and the teaching of Nadia Boulanger making France (specifically, Paris) the centre of the western classical music world.

Britain, too, was doing well. After a century of hosting foreign artists and enjoying the creativity of others, composers such as Parry and Stanford began a musical renaissance, giving rise to a rich harvest of works from the likes of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, Maconchy, Bax and Britten. (All these composers wrote chamber music for the oboe.)

What is noticeable in the collection on this album is how the British composers are influenced by the French, but not the other way around. Given the supremacy of Paris at the time this is not surprising. As well as describing a delightful collection of pieces for flute, oboe and piano, these notes also consider if the generalisations of Debussy and Menuhin can be applied to this music from our two countries.

Media Comment
"As is typical of Jeremy Polmear's dedicated work with Oboe Classics, the album is curated and organized to be both historically useful and sublimely listenable for all." Jeanne Belfy, The Double Reed. The whole review is here.

"The performances on this disc are delightful; subtle, intelligent and idiomatic. The individual playing is notable for the excellence of the accompanying at least as much for the panache of the solo playing. As an ensemble, they convey a real sense of enjoyment of the music and pleasure in each other's performance, capturing perfectly the kaleidoscope that is the Damase, the exuberance of the Boulanger, the Spanishness of the Ibert, the quirkiness of the Jacob and the unaffected lyricism of the Naylor." Christopher Hooker, Double Reed News

"The performers on this recording are well-matched and present an excellent sense of ensemble throughout. There are some wonderfully lyrical moments which contrast well with the more energetic moments in the music, and there is an enjoyable clarity and precision throughout. The repertoire is thoughtfully chosen and demonstrates the musical and expressive potential of this the flute, oboe and piano trio convincingly. This is a fascinating recording which contains some hidden gems of the repertoire. Recommended." Carla Rees, Pan Flute Magazine. The whole review is here.

"Recorded in the sympathetically warm acoustic of All Saints East Finchley these seldom heard works are interesting partners; for both countries a substantial trio is supported by smaller works. Inhabiting a sound world akin to Poulenc, with biting harmonies alongside exuberant circus inspired music [Jean-Michel Damase's] trio proves a lively opener. It is full of memorable flights of fancy and technical challenges which the players rise to with seeming ease. Gordon Jacob's music is still not as well-known as it should be... This Trio from 1958 is a perfect foil to the Damase. Neo-classical in style it is superbly written for the instruments with the third and fourth movements showing more than a nod to the playfulness and cheek of his pupil Malcolm Arnold." Paul RW Jackson, British Music Society

"The Entente Cordiale is alive and well in this album of twentieth-century Franco-British chamber music for oboe, flute and piano. It ranges chronologically from Delius to Jean-Michel Damase, whose arresting four-movement Trio of 1961 opens the disc... This enjoyable and engaging recital is played with a sure sense of the stylistic allegiances of the music - whether pastoral, classical-leaning or more cosmopolitan - and has been well recorded and annotated too. If you fancy Anglo-French trio time, this disc offers zesty and lyric pleasures." Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International

Listener Comment
"Your playing is beautiful, flexible, sensitive and also beautiful tuning, the low notes always so perfect soft and blending." Han de Vries, Netherlands

"This is a wonderful collection of pieces for oboe, flute and piano. Thank you, Jeremy, for introducing us to this repertoire ;-). Congratulations for the recording!" Sarah Roper, Spain

"What a lovely CD! All the pieces are beautifully played. It's good to hear one of Edward Naylor's secular works, as he is well-known for his church music but not so much otherwise." Frances Nex, UK

"Every one of the pieces has something worthwhile to offer (great playing of course - that goes without saying). What about that extraordinary opening by Damase - only to wrong foot the listener by slipping into the most melodious, gay and jokey writing.

"Do I agree with your thesis that there is a difference? Yes and no. I think there is French way of writing and an English way, but sometimes the French write in the English way and the English the French. Coming to it blind I would have picked Damase's last movement and Ibert's first Interlude as English Pastoral, whereas I'd have put the Goossens Harlequinade and all the Jacob Trio as French. However, Naylor is totally in the English style, as is Goossens' Pastoral.

"I've been trying to think of them as two overlapping Venn diagrams but it doesn't work. It's not so much that there's common ground, it's that most composers could write in either style. Which is the point you make about how the French influenced the English. I agree it's harder to point to the English influencing the French. They already had their version of the Pastoral Style. And they were so snobbish about Paris being the centre of the world they weren't open to learning from others!

"So, congratulations on a really lovely disc and a stimulating theme behind it!" Andrew Polmear [relation], UK/France

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