Roussel and Rimsky are remembered, amongst other things, for
their fledgling naval careers. These in turn inspired exotically
flavoured works touched with the Orient - Padmavati and
Evocations by Roussel and Sadko, Antar and
Sheherazade by Rimsky. Let's not forget Jean Cras a French
composer who rose to senior rank in the French Navy and a number
of whose works reflect that horizon-broadening oceanic experience.
Cras was born in the Manche Atlantique sea-port of Brest. On
his naval voyages he took a piano. He became Major-General of
Read more the Port of Brest and rose to the rank of Rear-Admiral. His
music has been winningly championed by Timpani and extensively
The five movement Quintet (1928) is in four movements.
The writing is irradiated with idyllic diaphanous impressionism.
If you enjoy the Ravel Introduction and Allegro then
this is a discovery you need to make. The textures are busy
with delight. There are however some shivery thrusts in the
abrasive Animé (II) as well as chilly damps and trailing
lichen in III. The writing shifts between voluptuous bloom and
cooler ardour touched with the shadows of late afternoon. Some
of this reminded me of the more elysian moments in Bax’s Spring
fire memorably recorded by Handley on Chandos and more recently
on the Hallé label by Mark Elder. Other strange echoes include
the dripping fountain music by Delius from Flecker’s Hassan.
Fauns and Satyrs scatter across the lawns in the smiling chases
and flower-chains of the finale which is marked Tres Lent.
The Suite en Duo (1922) for Flute and Harp is also in
four movements. This has the chirpy warmth, slow yield and stretch
of the Quintette. After a short Préambule there's
a classically folksy birdsong Modéré, a bardic and courtly
Assez Lent and a final Danse à onze temps. Overall
this sequence reminded me somewhat of Britten's Courtly Dances
from Gloriana in the Bream reduction.
The Deux Impromptus for solo harp are in two conjoined
movements. The Lent is slow pulsed with much unhurried
arpeggiation and pensive romantic proclivities on display rather
than the medievalism that gives the Suite en Duo such
a distinctive profile. The Animé section glitters, glimmers
and scintillates with silver and golden points of light. Deep
bell tones counterpoint the mithril shimmer and the piece ends
on an understated submissive gesture. It is a masterpiece of
the solo harp repertoire. Here display is in fealty to the generous
soul of expression and communication. The music is most superbly
placed and paced by Rachel Talitman. Finding the right gait
is essential to making the telling effect and Talitman does
this unerringly. In this she is aided in the acoustic by the
technical mastery of Denis Guerdon.
One might only complain about shortish playing time but beyond
such grocerly concerns the music-making smilingly beckons you
-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International Read less
Works on This Recording
Quintet for Harp, Flute, Violin, Viola and Celloby Jean Cras Performer:
Pierre-Henri Xuereb (Viola),
Marcos Fregnani-Martins (Flute),
Rachel Talitman (Harp),
Erez Ofer (Violin),
Hee-yong Lim (Cello)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1928; France