Casadesus

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COMPOSERS: Casadesus
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Casadesus
WORKS: Symphony No. 1; Symphony No. 5; Symphony No. 7
PERFORMER: Natasha Jouhl
Alexandra Gibson
Mark Wilde
Michael Druiett
Gateshead Children’s Choir
Northern Sinfonia
Howard Shelly
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 10263
Robert Casadesus is rightly

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remembered as a great pianist, preeminent

in Ravel and Mozart, yet his

copious output of original works is

hardly known. This recording of three

of his seven symphonies may redress

the balance a little, though it cannot

be said that it reveals a major master.

Casadesus was not given to pastiche

(unlike his uncle Henri, who fathered

viola concertos on Handel and CPE

Bach), but his works determinedly

evoke an ultra-civilised classicism,

and Symphony No. 5 ‘sur le nom de

Haydn’, in homage to that master, is

inevitably reminiscent of Prokofiev’s

Classical Symphony. Overall the

impression is of attractive, expertly

crafted but lightweight scores, perhaps

written with no greater ambition than

to entertain.

The First Symphony of 1934-5

has echoes of Ibert, Koechlin,

Milhaud and especially Ravel in the

beautifully poised slow movement.

Symphony No. 7 (Isra‘l), Casadesus’s

last work, dedicated to the memory of

George Szell and partly inspired by

the Six-Day War, employs wordless

voices almost throughout: the first

movement is undoubtedly dramatic

but the general effect is more like a

film score than a symphonic

dialectic. Indeed the same comment

could apply to everything here: not

to decry film music, simply to note

that Casadesus generally seems

concerned with immediate pictorial

effect and atmosphere.

That said, one can hardly imagine

these amiable works better presented

than here with, in Howard Shelley,

one distinguished pianist most

sympathetically directing the

compositions of another, in

performances marked by warm,

affectionate playing and very good

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sound. Calum MacDonald