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 - poco meno mosso - Tempo I; Allegro molto
Edward Naylor: Trio (1924) (première recording)
Eugene Goossens: Pastoral and Harlequinade (1924)
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.
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.
"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
"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