Bréville, Canteloube

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COMPOSERS: Bréville,Canteloube
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in C sharp minor; Suite: Dans la montagne
PERFORMER: Philippe Graffin (violin), Pascal Devoyon (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 67427

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With two operas, orchestral, choral, chamber and keyboard works to his credit, it seems unjust that Joseph Canteloube should be so conclusively thought of as a ‘one work’ composer. But this particular curse is also an accolade; there is no doubting the consummate loveliness of the orchestral version of his Songs of the Auvergne. The substantial four-movement suite Dans la montagne breathes similar air: D’Indy, much impressed by it, persuaded the young Canteloube to revise it into its present form. Winningly lyrical, Romantic, largely untouched by Impressionism, it often calls to mind the idiom of Lalo. Like Canteloube, Pierre de Bréville (1861-1949) cuts something of a conservative figure in 20th-century French music. Although it was composed at the end of the First World War, there is very little in his First Violin Sonata to suggest the impact of Debussy, or indeed that of any early 20th-century modernist. Rather the spirit of his teacher Franck and that of Fauré are reborn and extended. Both these extensive and serious works are fine examples of what is best about French Romanticism stretching into the modern era. Played with passion, commitment to idiom and technical fluency, as well as being excellently recorded, these little-known pieces should win wide appeal.

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Jan Smaczny