Milhaud: Suite for violin, clarinet & piano; Sonata for flute, oboe, clarinet & piano; Piano Quartet, Op. 417; Viola Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Milhaud
LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Suite for violin, clarinet & piano; Sonata for flute, oboe, clarinet & piano; Piano Quartet, Op. 417; Viola Sonata No. 2; Violin Sonata No. 2
PERFORMER: Ensemble Polytonaal
CATALOGUE NO: CCS 13998
Though Milhaud may have been the composer of the monumental opera Christophe Colomb, and the man who, in his jazzy youth, did as much in France as Schoenberg in Germany to liberate line from harmony, his heart lay in the world of the fête champêtre. Its relaxed fluency runs through all the pieces in this beguiling collection, the generous evocation of a perfect past even aspiring at times to Milhaud as troubadour (for which, hear also the delightful La cheminée du roi René).

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The 1936 Suite should need no introduction; or, if it does, will prove a useful starting-point from which to explore the early-, middle- and late-period works assembled here. Between the Sonata for piano and wind of 1918, and the Piano Quartet of 1966 lie a world war and emigration, and the wild rhythms of South American folk music, poured by the young composer into this Sonata and the second for violin (1917), are absent from the later score. Yet the binding sense prevails of an epistolary composer, one whose materials were as casual yet controlled as those of a chatty letter, for whom the binding imperative in all he did was to communicate la joie. Nicholas Williams