French Flute Chamber Music
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
Top Customer Reviews
Though the music exists in that same sound world, subtle differences in the personalities of the composers emerge. Francaix is playful, Roussel muscular, and Schmitt nostalgic and a bit sentimental. Marcel Tournier's Suite, Op. 34 is a special treat. I knew, and enjoyed, the piece from a Hanssler Classic CD with the Linos Harp Quintet, but the Mirage Quintet give the work a forward momentum and depth that really makes it stand out. You can get a feel for this from the Mirage Quintet's YouTube video of the 3rd Movement (Lied: Assez Lent, Avec Melancolie) filmed during the CD recording in Toronto in 2007. [...]
This recording took place under the watchful eyes and ears of the great team of Bonnie Silver & Norbert Kraft, who between them share producer, engineer, and editor functions. Kraft, by the way, is the very same guitarist who completely nailed the Villa-Lobos guitar music for Naxos in 2000. The sound on the new disc is predictably excellent, though some might argue that Robert Aitken's flute is too forward in the mix. It's hard to see how this music could be played or presented any better.
A longer version of this review is at The Villa-Lobos Magazine - [...]
The notion of 'french' things, whether they be pictorial or architectural and especially musical, should relate directly to the Dance, e.g. the pointillism might be the leading voice of a string, or be explained through an ornament under a parapet, or perhaps be a brush-stroke that goes somewhere, and not nowhere (as so much of Turner goes)
Delicateness is paramount, and such figurines will, or rather, should, invoke a particular sound from the instruments.
Unfortunately, in this record, all sounds go straight the the bowels ; I belch, and cannot tell whether I am reticular or simply un-particular.