Author Topic: Paul Le Flem(1881-1984): "the greatest Breton composer"?  (Read 1885 times)

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Offline Dundonnell

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Paul Le Flem(1881-1984): "the greatest Breton composer"?
« on: September 24, 2011, 05:28:58 AM »
The Tournemire thread has led me to begin one on Le Flem.

In his booklet notes for the Marco Polo cd containing Le Flem's late Symphony No.4 the French author makes the claim that the composer was "the greatest Breton composer. This seems at the least contentious considering the alternative claims of Joseph Guy-Ropartz. I am not, in fact, going to compare the two except to note that there must be something in the air of Brittany since Guy-Ropartz lived to be 91 and Le Flem died four months after his 103rd birthday :)

To be honest I don't know how good a composer Le Flem actually was since the only substantial works of his I know come from the opposite ends of his long life. The Timpani cd containing the Symphony no.1 of 1908 and the Fantasie for Piano and orchestra of 1911 demonstrate a composer certainly well-schooled in the music of composers like Franck and d'Indy but more than capable of standing favourable comparison with his contemporaries. The symphony in particular is a grand and rather imposing piece, rather Baxian in many ways.

The Marco Polo disc includes the Symphony No.4 of 1972, a relatively short work-in a less than entirely satisfactory performance. This symphony shows a considerable development of style(not surprising really considering it was written 66 years after his First ;D).

It would be interesting to hear more Le Flem, including the Second and Third Symphonies and, hopefully, Timpani will get round to a complete set.

There were a number of very impressive French symphonists in the 20th century and with revived interest in composers like d'Indy, Ropartz, Tournemire, Koechlin, Maurice Emmanuel, not to mention more advanced people like Jolivet, Sauguet and Landowski, Le Flem may yet get more attention.


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Re: Paul Le Flem(1881-1984): "the greatest Breton composer"?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2011, 07:11:07 AM »
I have raved about his Piano Quintet, on that Thread. It has a very dreamy, Impressionistic-Late Romantic, all encompassing passion that is wholly winning. The introduction to the first movement has all the moonlit, mysterious qualities of Koechlin, without the latter's penchant for a little bombast (sorry guys!) There are two recordings... does anyone have the Timpani? (haven't heard it)