Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Paraty have brought us some most interesting and appealing concertos by Jean-Charles Gandrille brilliantly performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra with two fine soloists

Jean-Charles Gandrille (b.1982) www.jeancharlesgandrille.com studied music at the Conservatoire National de Région de Versailles before going on to study organ, orchestration and harmony at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris.

As a composer, he has received various international awards for his works. He describes his music as being neo-modal, polymodal and neo-minimalist. His music includes works for solo piano, organ and cello, chamber music, and orchestral music. Jean-Charles Gandrille performs regularly in organ recitals. He is co-owner of the Saint-Lubin church Rambouillet (Yvelines) and organist at the Church of Our Lady of Auvers-sur-Oise since 2007.

Jean-Charles Gandrille’s Violin Concerto was premiered in Doha, Qatar on 17th March 2012 by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Thomas Kalb with violinist Omar Chen Guey http://afarcry.org/bios/omar.

His Minimalist-Concerto for piano, organ and orchestra was premiered in Doha, Qatar on 3th March 2013 also by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra http://qatarphilharmonicorchestra.org  this time under the direction of Alkis Baltas http://www.cyso.org.cy/index.php/en/about-us/artistic-director with pianist Rami Khalifé and the composer as organist. These two concertos now appear on a new release from Paraty http://new.paraty.fr  with the same performers.

PARATY 614126
Gandrille’s Minimalist Concerto (2012) arose out of listening to the music of Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and Steve Reich, enabling the composer to find a new energy to his music whilst still retaining certain aspects of the French tradition. In three movements Jubilation opens with a rapid motif for strings with instrumental highlights before the brass slowly bring a brighter edge, as do percussion. Pianist, Rami Khalifé sounds some chords picking up on the repeated theme. The theme continues in the orchestra, slower and quieter with the piano taking the lead, developing a longer and more varied melody. Gandrille’s ever changing orchestral colours and his ability to vary his theme, lift this music out of the minimalist trap of over repetition. Soon the music moves through some lovely expansive passages with both a section of the orchestra and the piano developing a rolling, forward flowing theme over the same repeated string motif. There is a lovely swell in the lower orchestra, over which the expansive melody grows in dynamics. Organ chords played by the composer himself sound out, moving into a sonorous version of the theme and slowly falling quieter.

The piano alone takes the theme gently ahead, soon joined by woodwind in a lovely moment. The piano brings a repeated theme but varies it with some lovely filigree phrases before continuing delicately over a hushed orchestra that brings many little instrumental details. Later the music rises to a peak in the orchestra before brass sound over the repeated orchestral motif. There are many fine instrumental moments that arrive over the repeated motif before the piano returns to take the theme. A xylophone joins as the music gathers momentum for the coda where the organ enters again against a chiming of bell as the orchestra joins in the impressive coda.

The piano gently opens Lullaby, 'In memory of my grandfather' with a little motif. The organ then quietly takes the theme which is then shared between piano and organ. Soon the organ varies by bringing gentle chords based on the theme. Tubular bell chimes accompany the piano before the piano broadens the chords of the theme. Slowly and subtly the piano varies the theme providing a fine moment before reducing to single piano notes repeated. The piano brings another development over which the organ lays rich, hushed chords with the orchestra soon entering to add to the depth and colour of the music. The organ develops delicate little decorations over the orchestra and piano, a dream like quality is achieved, quite beautiful. The theme expands over the hushed orchestra as the piano continues its way. Timpani and other percussion join to point up the theme as we reach the hushed coda.

A gentle trombone opens Final Dance with a muted trumpet reflecting the theme. Very soon a rapidly repeated left hand piano motif arrives with the right hand taking a theme that the orchestra joins bringing a constant, subtle development. The piano rises up with the theme, becoming ever more dynamic bringing an exotic dance with a Latin American flavour. The organ joins, lowering the dynamics and bringing a gentler version of the dance theme. The piano re-joins with the organ and orchestra lightly and gently rushing ahead with some lovely textures soon pointed up by percussion as brass as the rhythm gains momentum. There is repetition here but with a constantly shifting orchestra and harmony before the organ brings the decisive coda.

Around seven years separate the composition of Gandrille’s Violin Concerto (2011). The influence of the French composer Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013) shaped a poem for violin subtitled Par-delà, vers l'azur... (Beyond, Toward the Azure…) written in 2004. The score languished until the suggestion came for a violin concerto for performance by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra. Gandrille returned to sketches he had made when writing the poem for violin, finally arriving at a three movement concerto. The third movement Danse Aka uses a polyrhythm from dances of the Aka Pygmies of central Africa.

As Par-delà, vers l'azur... (Beyond, Toward the Azure…) opens, a timpani beat precedes a dissonant, shimmering orchestral theme that soon falls quieter and less dissonant. An oboe introduces a lovely melody over the hushed orchestra before soloist Omar Chen Guey joins. There is a brief pause before both violin and oboe lead forward, with the violin soon weaving the theme over the orchestra.  Some fine shifting harmonies are developed with the music occasionally rising in passion but falling to quieter, gentler moments. Omar Chen Guey brings some beautifully developed melodic moments over a hushed shifting orchestral accompaniment. The music rises a little before gently moving ahead with little slurs of phrases from the violin. A cor anglais joins in a dialogue with the violin, Gandrille adding fine colours from percussion and orchestra. Eventually the music gathers pace in the orchestra before falling to a hush as the solo violin brings a gentle, wavering theme with harp a string accompaniment before a hushed coda.

The brief Interlude brings a gentle, quiet theme that is mulled over with timpani strokes quietly sounding before the orchestra slowly rises up in a flurry of instrumental textures, to lead into the final movement.

Danse Aka opens with percussion tapping out a rhythm which the violin picks up along with muted brass textures. There are pizzicato repeated violin rhythms over pizzicato basses as the music leads on. The orchestra rises up with the rhythm, bringing orchestral colours that are rather exotic. There is a repeated orchestral theme over which the violin appears, joining in a dream like repetitive dance. The music increases in orchestral depth with timpani sounding out, then brass and percussion in rasping dynamic chords. There are cymbal clashes and a xylophone takes the dancing theme over the strings in this constantly varied orchestral tapestry. The solo violin adds to the pounding, repeated rhythmic theme as timpani and brass appear. Eventually a lighter textured passage for solo violin and timpani leads to a fast moving cadenza brilliantly brought off by soloist Omar Chen Guey. The cadenza broadens as tubular bell chimes and orchestra join over repeated pizzicato violin phrases. There are drooping orchestral brass motifs and pizzicato basses as well as harmonics from solo violin before pizzicato violin phrases and hushed chords lead to coda.  

Paraty have brought us some most interesting and appealing concertos brilliantly performed by the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and the two fine soloists. The Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra certainly proves to be an impressive ensemble. This music may have elements of minimalism but it certainly holds the attention with repetition kept to a supporting role. Gandrille brings many lovely moments full of colour and texture.

These are excellent live recordings from the Opera House, Doha, Qatar with very little audience noise. Sadly applause is kept in after the first movement of the Minimalist Concerto but then only appears after the end of each work. 

There are brief but useful booklet notes. There are no dates for the recordings but I am assuming that they may well be taken from the premieres given in Qatar in 2012 and 2013.

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