Author Topic: The French Music Exploration thread  (Read 30887 times)

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Offline Papy Oli

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #520 on: May 10, 2021, 01:38:37 AM »
Finally, I also samples random tracks in these various Messiaen boxes. Again, not a sound world that attracts me at this time. I will keep him up my sleeve for another time though, probably via extracts of Catalogues d'oiseaux.





Olivier

Offline André

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #521 on: May 10, 2021, 04:05:31 AM »
Milhaud is an acquired taste. It comes in bits and takes root quietly. Over time you realize he’s a decidedly unique composer. A bit like learning to enjoy cactuses  :P

Offline Papy Oli

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #522 on: May 10, 2021, 04:19:53 AM »
Milhaud is an acquired taste. It comes in bits and takes root quietly. Over time you realize he’s a decidedly unique composer. A bit like learning to enjoy cactuses  :P

 :laugh:

I recognize he has a unique identity and I'll give it time, André.

Let's just hope he fares better over time than the various cacti I have owned in the past :blank:
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Offline OrchestralNut

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #523 on: May 10, 2021, 04:22:12 AM »
:laugh:

I recognize he has a unique identity and I'll give it time, André.

Let's just hope he fares better over time than the various cacti I have owned in the past :blank:

 :D  Cacti....yes, there is a fair bit of thorny, prickly music out there.  ;)

Offline Papy Oli

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #524 on: May 13, 2021, 12:39:18 AM »
A couple more composers tested in the last few days :

Alkan, Charles-Valentin (1813-88) - Various etudes, the 3 Concerto de Camera

Found the concertos of interest. Will have to go back to those. For those interested, The full Brilliant Alkan Edition is £5.42 as FLAC on Presto.

Boulez, Pierre (1925-2016) - Pli selon Pli, Marteau sans Maître, Dérives, Piano Sonatas

hmm.. one for the backburner. I did like some of Dérives and Marteau some time back. This time, it all just left me just perplexed  ;D

Pleyel, Ignaz (1757-1831) - CPO extracts of Prussian quartets, Piano trios, Clarinet concertos

Nice but a bit bland.
Olivier

Offline Madiel

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #525 on: May 14, 2021, 02:59:36 AM »
I've been dabbling in Ropartz today, and finding him quite interesting. Not least because as I understand it he was very consciously a Breton composer.

The music has a certain heaviness to it, but without being what I would consider "clunky". I can see some connection with Franck (not that I know Franck that well).

I really liked the piano trio, and some songs were appealing. Symphony No.4 was still decent but it didn't grab me as much. Symphony No.2 is currently playing and so far I'm enjoying it more than no.4.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #526 on: July 29, 2021, 06:02:44 AM »
Herbert Henck on Koechlin's Les Heures Persanes

Quote
'Whoever wishes to come with me to see the blooming of the roses in Isfahan, must be prepared to wander slowly at my side from place to place as in the Middle Ages." With these partly seductive, partly warn-ing words, Julien Viaud (1850-1923) - for many years a French naval officer and well-known as the writer of numerous, mostly exotic novels under the pseudonym Pierre Loti - introduces the diary-like description of his two-month-long journey through Persia which led him in the year 1900 from Bushire on the Persian Gulf up the steep slopes to the Iranian plateau, through Shiraz, past the ruins of Persepolis to Isfahan [Ispahan], from there to Teheran and finally over the Elburz Mountains back down to the Caspian Sea again.

This travel book, unspectacular though full of melancholy at the loss of former greatness and beauty, appeared in Paris in 1904 under the title Vers Ispahan ["Toward Isfahan"] and two years later as Gen /spa-ban in a German translation; it provided one of the essential sources on which Charles Koechlin relied when in 1913 he began to compose a piano cycle which over the years grew to 16 pieces called Les Heures Persanes, "The Persian Hours", to which in the completed orchestral ver-sion of 1921 he gave the subtitle "16 orchestra pieces after Vers Ispahan by Pierre Loti."

Yet only about half of Koechlin's cycle refers with varying degrees of clarity to Loti's book; as equal inspirations there should be listed the trav-el books and stories of the diplomat Count Joseph-Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882) and the stories from A Thousand and One Nights in the French translation by Victor Mardrus (1868-1949). These two, Gobi-neau and Mardrus, with Loti, Ravel, Satie, Milhaud, Faure, Saint-Saens, and others less well-known should be included among those to whom Les Heures Persanes is dedicated. Gobineau's description of Persia, Trois ans en Asie ["Three Years in Asia"] (1859) refers in large part to the same route that Loti later pursued.

 Koechlin however never visited Persia, and untroubled by the threat of reproach for lack of authenticity, he himself called Les Heures Per-sanes "un voyage imaginaire", a journey in the mind, in imagination. (There can be no question that this is not nor could it be an actual depic-tion of Persia. The inclusion in art of things foreign and exotic has always been a legitimate prOcedure to thematicize areas that had been exclud-ed from the artist's own cultural tradition. Decoration, repetition, an absence of development, sensuality, ecstacy, or paganism often found in exoticism their first place and expression - as for example in the case of jazz.)

This is then a fictional journey in which history and fantasy are indis-solubly woven together to form a tableau, a genre picture, an idyll, a miniature. However only a few of these pictures are still lifes, calm like the opening piece, evenly spread out like "The hills, at sunset" (XIII). Others capture movement such as the imperceptible passage of moonlight (VIII), the dreamy procession of the caravan (II), the careful movement up the steep slope (III), the splashing of the fountain (XI), the increasingly convoluted arabesques (XII), the "swarm" in the street (VI), or the frantic dance of the dervishes (XVI) - scenes, each respectively of a characteristic mood and speed which, though only imagined, must have fascinated Koechlin in much the same way as did on another occasion the characters in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book, out of which Koechlin derived an orchestral cycle in five parts (1899-1940), or films in the thirties whose early movie stars he celebrated in sometimes large-scaled portraits (among them Douglas Fairbanks, Lilian Harvey, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, and Charlie Chaplin). This inspiration nourished by concrete models - which also influenced his large number of songs - stands with Koechlin in a well-balanced relationship to more constructed, more abstract, and sometimes more didactic aspects of composition which consistently led him to neutral titles such as "Piece", "Sonata", "Sonatine", "Quartet", "Quintet",
and so on. It should be noted that both of these areas constantly permeated each other in reality.

Koechlin's inner preoccupation with the theme of light - the changes between light and dark, sun and moon, day and night, month and sea-son - is revealed in all his creative periods and often makes its way into the musical interpretation itself as the playing instruction, lumineux, "luminous"; this leads to a special formal synthesis in Les Heures Persanes. In this cycle with a playing time of more than one hour, the sequence of the 16 pieces makes clear that more than two whole days pass before us: the restfulness on the day before the journey (I) and the dream of a night caravan (II) lead - just before dawn - to the climb through the mountain passes to the high plateau (III) and the "Cool morning, in the mountain valley" (IV). The pieces "In view of the town" (V) and "Through the streets" (VI) take place during the brightness of day-time before "Evening song" (VII) and „Moonlight on the terraces" (VIII) complete the first day midway through the cycle.

With "Aubade" (IX), the morning serenade, the second day begins. "Roses in the midday sun" (X) and "In the shade, near the marble foun-tain" (XI) represent again the bright, warm daytime. "Arabesques" (XII) could be interpreted as an intermezzo, a play of mirrors between light and darkness, and with "The hills, at sunset" (XIII) lengthening shadows announce the arrival of the third night. One can already associate 'The Storyteller" and his three tales (XIV) with the evening hours and a return to rest, while in "The peace of evening" (XV) and in "Dervishes at night" (XVI) the time of day is again indicated in the titles.

Without wishing to overemphasize the harmonical aspect of such an arrangement, the two-fold cyclic form anchors the musical cycle in the natural flow of time, or cosmologically speaking, in the hierarchy ruled by the sun and the moon, which provides the work with a unity that extends far beyond the musical relationships. Of course in spite of such formal security, it is not to be overlooked that, in common with Loti's book, a tone of melancholy reverie is characteristic of the work, rising only once at the central and climactic point in the cycle - in "Moonlight on the terraces" (VIII) - to a tragic lament, a lament for the loss of culture in general that later is repeated in a milder form in "Moonlight on the gardens" (the end of XIV) and "Moonlight on the deserted square" (the end of XVI), but also understandable as a bridge to that wartime against the background of which Les Heures Persanes was composed.

Herbert Henck English translation by John Patrick Thomas
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Offline Madiel

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #527 on: July 29, 2021, 05:29:09 PM »
I really do have to get back to this list of composers. I was last trying d’Indy without much enthusiasm (but I was going to switch genres as that sometimes helps).
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Offline kyjo

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #528 on: July 31, 2021, 11:03:00 AM »
I really do have to get back to this list of composers. I was last trying d’Indy without much enthusiasm (but I was going to switch genres as that sometimes helps).

IMHO, d’Indy is one of the less interesting French composers of the late-19th/early-20th centuries. His best-known work is the Symphony on a French Mountain Air for good reason - it has a melodic freshness and spark that is mostly absent from his other works, which tend towards the “academic”. There are a few exceptions, like his Clarinet Trio which has a gorgeous slow movement, but usually I’m disappointed by his works.
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Offline André

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #529 on: July 31, 2021, 11:11:13 AM »
I think you’re being too harsh on poor old d’Indy. Many other works deserve more than just the dutiful occasional hearing.  ;)

Offline ritter

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #530 on: July 31, 2021, 11:31:06 AM »
I was listening to d’Indy’s Suite en parties just the other day, and didn’t like it at all…. :(
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Offline André

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #531 on: July 31, 2021, 04:16:43 PM »
Try Istar or Wallenstein, Poème des rivages, Jour d’été à la montagne or the Diptyque méditerranéen. Some discs have 2 or 3 of these works.

Offline Madiel

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #532 on: July 31, 2021, 05:14:44 PM »
I'm pretty sure Istar was on the disc I tried.
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Offline The new erato

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #533 on: July 31, 2021, 09:18:07 PM »
I see to remember  his string quartets as good, particularly no 3.

Offline kyjo

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #534 on: August 02, 2021, 06:10:54 AM »
I think you’re being too harsh on poor old d’Indy. Many other works deserve more than just the dutiful occasional hearing.  ;)

Which works of his do you rate the most highly, André?
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Offline André

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Re: The French Music Exploration thread
« Reply #535 on: August 02, 2021, 07:54:05 AM »
Which works of his do you rate the most highly, André?

Well, the ones I quoted above are all favourites.  :)