Eechaute, Mortelmans, Ryelandt, Benoit & de Greef

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Benoit & de Greef,Eechaute,Mortelmans,Ryelandt
LABELS: Pavane
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Flemish Romantic and Impressionist Piano Music
WORKS: Works by Eechaute, Mortelmans, Ryelandt, Benoit & de Greef
PERFORMER: Peter Vanhove (piano)
It’s sheer prejudice, of course, that a programme of ‘Flemish Romantic and Impressionist piano music’ by composers of whom one has barely heard doesn’t quicken the blood with anticipation. There could be unconsidered treasures here, lying ripe for discovery. Actually there aren’t – but there’s nothing awful either. On this showing, Flemish piano composers of the late 19th and early 20th century knew their Chopin and Liszt and Schumann very well, and the later ones their Debussy, too. They assimilated them intelligently, wrote fluently for the instrument, adhered to a variety of miniature genres (Phantasiestücke from Joseph Ryelandt, nocturnes and little tone poems from Lodewijk Mortelmans and Arthur de Greef) and wrote civilised, expressive music of no great importance or memorability. The one partial exception to this verdict is Prosper van Eechaute (1904-64), who gets the largest number of works on the disc and who was obviously deeply influenced by Ravel to the point of occasional stylistic reproduction. His Suite ancienne, though patently inspired by Le tombeau de Couperin, is a highly effective piece to which I’ll return. Pleasant playing from Peter Vanhove, nicely balanced recording; nothing to set the world on fire here. Mind you, a Fleming happening on a disc of miscellaneous Stanford, Moeran and York Bowen would probably say the same. Calum MacDonald