ALBUM TITLE: Fauré: Lydia’s Vocalises
WORKS: Vocalises; Lydia in F; Lydia in G; Allegro non troppo from the Second Violin Sonata; plus transcriptions of works by Chabrier, Saint-Saëns, Hahn, Rameau, Couperin and Marchand
PERFORMER: Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (trumpet) Roy Howat, Daniel-Ben Pienaar (piano)
Thirty-five world premiere recordings of works by Fauré played on trumpet. That clearly needs some explanation. The works are the various ‘Vocalises’ that Fauré wrote for the Paris Conservatoire voice exams while he was director there. These wordless miniatures were part of his attempt to reform the teaching of singing, with students sight-reading from the manuscripts. They would later fall into disuse, until their first publication in 2013, edited by Roy Howat and Emily Kirkpatrick.
Howat suggests that, since these pieces test various limits of vocality, they can be appreciated more comfortably on the trumpet. Indeed, adding to a long tradition of performing vocalises on instruments, these vignettes are far from dry exercises: they embody the deceptively easygoing lyricism of Fauré’s songs, making this an unexpected treasure trove of his melodic invention. It’s a pity the material, played with taste and subtlety by Jonathan Freeman-Attwood and partnered by Howat’s nuanced accompaniments, lasts barely 30 minutes, the remainder of the disc filled with (charming) pieces from Freeman-Attwood’s earlier releases. Christopher Dingle