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Postcards From Paris - Milhaud, Etc / La Porte, Saulter


Release Date: 11/27/2007 
Label:  Centaur Records   Catalog #: 2883   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Darius MilhaudMaurice RavelFrancis KleynjansJacques Ibert,   ... 
Performer:  Michelle LaPorteGerard Saulter
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc contains some charming French repertoire for flute and guitar. Beginning with Milhaud’s Corcovado, a short work with well-shaped melodic lines and exotic harmonies, the scene is set for a Parisian adventure. Each of the composers heard here had a connection with the Paris Conservatoire, and concise composer information is provided in the sleeve-notes. This is an unedited recording, with the aim of maintaining a sense of live performance.

Francis Kleynjans was not known to me before this disc, but his Deux Arias are simply written, well constructed and have some charm. The first Aria brings to mind melodically Rodrigo’s Fantasia para un Gentilhombre, and the two instruments form a well balanced ensemble. The Deux
Read more Valses for solo guitar are short and take on different waltz styles; the Latin American Choro is moderately paced while the Française is lighter and more fluid.

Ibert’s Entr’acte is a tense work with conflicting tonalities and a distinctly Spanish feel. The syncopated dotted rhythms in the flute seemed to drag slightly, and some of the faster triplet motifs suffered from unevenness at times. Pièce is for solo flute, and demonstrated LaPorte’s enjoyable sound. This is a competent rendition, although I would have enjoyed more sense of fantasy in the phrases to give a stronger sense of the performer’s personality in the music.

Louis Moyse is perhaps best known as the son of the legendary Marcel Moyse, but was a successful musician himself. The Cantos de las Sierras are a set of three enjoyable pieces which have a strong sense of character. It is here that the duo begins to show their real abilities; LaPorte’s flute tone is richer and has more direction through the melodic lines, especially in the central movement. Saulter’s guitar is always enjoyable and he makes an excellent duo partner.

Poulenc’s Mouvements Perpétuels were originally written for piano but work well in this arrangement for flute and guitar. The music has a playful character and Poulenc’s individual approach to harmonic writing gives a sense of mysteriousness to the mood of the central movement. The intonation suffers slightly in the wider intervals of the flute part but this is otherwise a sound performance.

No anthology of French music would be complete without Debussy, and he is represented here with The Girl With the Flaxen Hair, performed on solo guitar, and Syrinx for solo flute. Saulter gives a convincing guitar solo with a good sense of pacing and changes of colour in the sound. Syrinx is open to many differences of interpretations between performers and it is often a matter of personal taste as to what works best. LaPorte begins with a bright sound and plays with much rubato throughout. There is a lot of artificial reverb on the sound which distracts slightly.

Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies are played with a lovely sense of Romanticism and the first in particular has the feeling of daydreams. The duo plays well together and their individual sonorities come together convincingly. LaPorte’s tone is particularly enjoyable here, and she does not over-use vibrato in the way that flute players sometimes do. The guitar is sensitive in its accompaniment throughout and there is a well-judged balance between the instrument’s treble and bass. The disc ends with Fauré’s charming Berceuse, a simple and elegant work which is often included in discs of this kind.

The performers on this disc are described as multi-award winning and have performed together internationally under the name of the Serenade Duo. Their biographies, both individually and as a duo are impressive, with many accolades in their native USA, but the playing on this disc failed to excite me to the extent that such accolades led me to expect. I would have liked a greater sense of expression and more energy and flair from the performers. The sound in general has a sense of being slightly muffled and it is sometimes difficult to hear clarity in the mid-range guitar. This is a self-produced disc and perhaps these sound issues can be improved on in future releases. I would be interested to hear this duo live to discover if the lack of dynamic range in this recording comes from the recording technique itself or from the playing. Nevertheless, this disc contains an interesting range of repertoire and has some enjoyable moments.

-- Carla Rees, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67: no 7, Corcovado by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920-1921; France 
2.
Pièce en forme de Habañera by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; France 
3.
Arias (2) for Flute and Guitar, Op 92b by Francis Kleynjans
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
4.
Waltzes (2) for Guitar, Op. 64 by Francis Kleynjans
Performer:  Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
5.
Entr'acte by Jacques Ibert
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; France 
6.
Pièce for Flute solo by Jacques Ibert
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; France 
7.
Cantos de las Sierras by Louis Moyse
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
8.
Mouvements perpétuels (3) by Francis Poulenc
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1918; France 
9.
Préludes, Book 1: no 8, La fille aux cheveux de lin by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909-1910; France 
10.
Syrinx by Claude Debussy
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute)
Written: 1913 pub 1927 
11.
Gymnopédies (3) for Piano by Erik Satie
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1888; France 
12.
Berceuse for Violin and Piano in D major, Op. 16 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Michelle LaPorte (Flute), Gerard Saulter (Guitar)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1878-1879; France 

Sound Samples

Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67b (arr. A. Levering for flute and guitar): Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67b: VIII. Corcovado (arr. A. Levering for flute and guitar)
Piece en forme de habanera (arr. for flute and guitar)
2 Arias, Op. 92: No. 1 in A minor
2 Arias, Op. 92: No. 2 in D major
2 Valses, Op. 64: No. 1. Choro
2 Valses, Op. 64: No. 2. Francaise
Entracte: Entr'acte
Piece
Cantos De Las Sierras: I. Allegro
Cantos De Las Sierras: II. Andante
Cantos De Las Sierras: III. Allegro
3 Mouvements perpetuels, FP 14 (arr. for flute and guitar): No. 1. Assez modere
3 Mouvements perpetuels, FP 14 (arr. for flute and guitar): No. 2. Tres modere
3 Mouvements perpetuels, FP 14 (arr. for flute and guitar): No. 3. Alerte
Preludes, Book 1 (arr. for guitar): Preludes, Book 1: No. 8: La fille aux cheveux de lin (arr. for guitar)
Syrinx
3 Gymnopedies (arr. for flute and harp): No. 1. Lent et douloureux
3 Gymnopedies (arr. for flute and harp): No. 2. Lent et triste
3 Gymnopedies (arr. for flute and harp): No. 3. Lent et grave
Berceuse, Op. 16 (arr. for flute and guitar)

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