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|1. Suite for flute, violin, viola, cello & harp, Op. 34: 1. Soir|
|2. Suite en Rocaille, for flute, viola, cello & harp, Op. 84: 4. Vif|
|3. Variations Libre et Finale, for flute, harp & string trio, Op. 51|
|4. Quintet for flute, violin, viola, cello & harp No. 1: 1. Andante tranquillo|
|5. Quintet for flute, violin, viola, cello & harp No. 1: 2. Scherzo|
|6. Quintet for flute, violin, viola, cello & harp No. 1: 3. Andante|
|7. Quintet for flute, violin, viola, cello & harp No. 1: 4. Rondo|
None of the music on this CD is deep, but hearing it is like walking through an exhibit of antique jewelry. Marcel Tournier, a harpist as well as a composer, gives that instrument a particularly prominent role in his Suite, which opens with the Debussy-like "Soir," and continues with a brief "Danse" (marked naïvement), a murmured "Lied" (where did the Germans come from?), and a springy and once again Debussy-like "Fête." Florent Schmitt's Suite en rocaille (an allusion to a decorative form of stonework) also is in four movements, and pays a smaller debt to impressionism than the Tournier. Its more purpose-driven writing suggests Ravel, a fellow Apache, and also looks back toward Fauré, who was Schmitt's mentor. The Variations libres et finale by Gabriel Pierné, strategically located in the middle of the program, offer more substance, although from time to time it sounds as if it were about to turn into Debussy's Danses sacrée et profane. Jean Françaix's Quintette alternates two adorably lazy movements with two that are perky and more typical of this fun-loving composer's style. Finally, Albert Roussel's sophisticated Sérénade speaks in the composer's distinctive voice, which is both exotic and neo-Classical.
The members of the Mirage Quintet are Robert Aitken (flute), Erica Goodman (harp), Jacques Israelivitch (violin), Teng Li (viola), and Winona Zelenka (cello). Regardless of where they were born, the musicians all are active in the Toronto area, and Li and Zelenka are principals in the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.
Sometimes Aitken's flute is not as prominent as I would like it to be, but the performances are atmospheric and beyond reproach. The booklet notes are acceptable, although not as helpful as they might be. This disc might be too much for one sitting. Its parts are delicious, however. -- Raymond Tuttle, Fanfare, Jan-Feb 2010