Decráck, Delvincourt, Sancan, Maurice, Koechlin & Desenclos

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Decráck,Delvincourt,Koechlin & Desenclos,Maurice,Sancan
LABELS: BIS
ALBUM TITLE: Decráck, Delvincourt, Sancan, Maurice, Koechlin & Desenclos
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Claude Delangle (saxophone); Odile Delangle (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1130

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Seventy-eight minutes of mid-century French music for saxophone and piano probably isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but most of the music here is of real quality and inventiveness, and beautifully played by this brother and sister team from the Paris Conservatoire. The seven numbers from Koechlin’s 15 Études of 1942-4 – which appeared complete only a few months ago on a Chandos disc – stand at the summit of saxophone expressivity: the Delangles favour a lighter, more elegant approach than Federico Mondelci and Kathryn Stott for Chandos, but ‘Pour les sons liés’ is exquisitely done, and in the monkey-tricks of ‘Pour les arpèges’ we hear the authentic voice of the composer of Les Bandar-Log. Koechlin apart, the composers are not major names, though Claude Delvincourt was a director of the Conservatoire. His agreeable Croquembouches suite is the earliest music on the disc (1926), and the only one to treat the saxophone jocularly, with culinary movements called ‘Plumpudding’, ‘Linzer tart’ and the like. Pierre Sancan’s Lamento et rondo (1973) and Alfred Desenclos’s Prélude, cadence et finale (1956) are the most nearly forgettable items, but even these figures are fine craftsmen who understand the instrument. Paule Maurice’s 1956 Tableaux de Provence is beautifully evocative: whoever he was, he was a real composer. The saxophone tone seems naturally to suggest liquidity, and no one uses that better than Fernande Decrück (wife of the New York Philharmonic’s saxophonist) and her superb Sonata of 1942 seems full of imagery relating to ocean voyaging.

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Calum MacDonald