Paris Mécanique

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Francaix,Goyone,Joplin,L Anderson,Milhaud,Morricone etc,Pierne,Poulenc,Riessler,Satie
LABELS: Marsyas
ALBUM TITLE: Paris Mécanique
PERFORMER: Sabine Meyer, Wolfgang Meyer, Reiner Wehle, Michael Riessler (clarinet), Pierre Charial (barrel organ)
CATALOGUE NO: MAR 1801 2

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Probably the first full CD of clarinet quartet with barrel-organ, Sabine Meyer’s project exists in a world of its own. The bright, high textures and intimate scale are not so much mechanical as exuberant and playful, for you are aware that most of the instruments are powered by human breath. It’s the straightest versions that come off best here: Pierné’s ‘Marche de fauves’ like a lost piece from Nutcracker, Poulenc in miniature with Sonata for Two Clarinets, Milhaud’s Scaramouche apparently borrowing from the sax version, and a wondrous arrangement of numbers from Françaix’s Danses exotiques that gives their looney-tune character an edgy dimension. Perverse it may be to play Leroy Anderson’s The Typewriter without its novelty solo, but you do end up listening to it as music, and good of its kind. Four Anderson pieces, however, are three too many; the other downside is the verbosity of several contemporary contributions, which, while light in spirit, could learn from Françaix’s laconic gift. Morricone plus birdsong in À l’aube du cinquième jour is engaging, but Scott Joplin’s Solace with tarted-up introduction and habanera rhythm makes for disaster. Brilliant playing altogether, but the programme itself is a very odd mix. Robert Maycock