Thursday 31 December 2015

Impressive, really substantial chamber works by Albéric Magnard receive very fine performances from violinist Geneviève Laurenceau, cellist Maximilian Hornung and pianist Oliver Triendl on a new release from CPO

(Lucien Denis Gabriel) Albéric Magnard (1865-1914) was born in Paris, the son of a director of Le Figaro and studied under Vincent d’Indy (1851-1931). He famously died whilst refusing to surrender his estate at Baron-sur-Oise to German troops in 1914.

Albéric Magnard’s output mainly consists of operas, orchestral works and chamber music. His four symphonies have been recorded more than once as have a number of other orchestral works such as his Hymne à la Justice written in protest at the injustice meted out to Captain Dreyfus.

It is his Piano Trio and Violin Sonata that are the subject of a new release from CPO , featuring Geneviève Laurenceau (violin) , Maximilian Hornung (cello)  and Oliver Triendl (piano) .

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Magnard’s Piano Trio in F Minor, Op. 18 was written in 1904/05 and first performed at the Salle Aéolian, Paris, in January 1906. In four movements, the first is marked Sombre – Clair – Tranquille – Animé.  There is a stormy opening, the music rising up full of energy before finding a more relaxed passage with some lovely intimate moments revealed by these artists. The music rises up again before further passages that bring calm, yet always with an underlying sense of being unsettled. There is some fine crisp phrasing from this trio as the music picks up in a very free rhythmic passage before moving through incisive bars that push ahead with great energy to the sudden coda.

The next movement, Chantant – Dramatique –Limpide – Calme, opens in an apparent oasis of calm, with a lovely melody. These artists bring wonderfully nuanced playing before finding a faster rhythmic push. They bring a fine subtle ebb and flow. Perhaps occasionally Magnard’s invention meanders a little but these players strive to keep it on track. Later the music finds a darker edge, rising dramatically with some very fine playing with some fast flowing piano phrases. Eventually there is a delicate hushed section with some deeply felt, emotionally charged passages before falling calmer as the coda arrives.

A light and happy Vif (temps de valse) – attaquez follows with these players still finding an emotional edge especially as the music darkens with subdued strings over a repeated piano motif. The lighter quality of the opening is soon restored but the darker feel is never far away, even as the music pushes ahead to lead to the coda that runs straight into the final movement.

Marked Largement – Vif – Largement – Vif – Double plus vif – Large – Vif – Double plus lent – Vif – Large, the violin brings a heartfelt theme to the final movement over a gentle piano accompaniment. Soon the piano picks up the pace with the cello taking the melody and adding a darker hue. As the trio takes the music forward at a fast pace, they bring some really fine textures in this intense, forward driving music. There are some eloquent moments of reflection but this is music constantly shifting emotion and drama. Midway there is a particularly lovely moment of quiet reflection as the strings weave a fine melody over a rippling piano accompaniment. The music soon picks up to run through faster passages before a richly drawn, gentle coda.

This is an impressive, really substantial trio in which these three players find much depth and feeling.

Composed in 1901, the Violin Sonata in G major, Op.13 was commissioned by and dedicated to the violin virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe who, with pianist Raoul Pugno, gave the premiere at the Salle Pleyel in Paris the following year.

Again in four movements, the first is marked Large – Animé – Large – Animé – Plus animé – Animé – Calme – Animé – Large – Animé – Large – Animé. The music opens quietly as the violin slowly emerges from a hushed entry. The piano joins tentatively before a more decisive violin part arrives; working up some incisive, rapid phrases before, with the piano, a more flowing melody is found.  Geneviève Laurenceau finds a real emotional core to this music with Oliver Triendl bringing a lovely freedom to his playing. Indeed, both bring much to the ever changing drama and emotion of this music. In the quieter moments there is some beautifully controlled playing and midway a dynamic passage of intense feeling. Again there is an ever changing emotional thread running through this movement. There is some particularly fine playing from Laurenceau towards the coda.  

The second movement marked Calme – Vif – Lent – Vif – Lent - Large – Calm – Lent – Calme – Vif – Lent – Vif – Lent – Large – En animant un peu – Calme – Lent – Calme – Largement – Lent opens quietly and slowly with a rather dreamy air as the violin brings a wonderful melody over a fine piano accompaniment. This is exquisitely playing, these two artists finding so many lovely moments. Triendl takes the theme forward, rising in more dramatic phrases to which Laurenceau responds. The music moves through a variety of passages, sometimes finding a gentler flow, often with passages of a more incisive rhythmic quality. Later there are some very fine florid piano passages around which the violin line is run before leading to a hushed gentle coda.

The much shorter third moment, Très vif – Très ralenti – Très Vif – Un peu moins vif, moves off with energy with sudden little violin chords and a variety of pizzicato phrases around a dynamic piano accompaniment. There is a brief moment of repose before hurtling to the coda.

The final movement marked Large – Lent – Large – Animé – Calme – Vivement – Large – Animé – Retardez – Très calme – Lent opens with a slow, faltering, rather melancholy theme for piano before moving slowly ahead with the violin bringing another fine flowing melody, the piano keeping a more restrained, hesitant stance. The music attains a constantly shifting, rising and falling motif in which these players bring the most wonderful playing. Soon there is a passage that positively skips along, full of rhythmic energy before eventually slackening for a lovely flowing sequence. Magnard develops his material expertly bringing some fine ideas. Later there is a section where these players slowly weave the lovely theme through some exquisite moments before bringing back the melancholy of the opening for the coda.

This is another substantial work that is given a very fine performance indeed by these two fine artists. 

This is music of depth, emotion and beauty. The very fine recording brings a warmth and richness without affecting detail. There are detailed booklet notes. 

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