GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: Kullervo on November 11, 2008, 11:07:13 AM

Title: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Kullervo on November 11, 2008, 11:07:13 AM
I've seen talk about him scattered in various threads; why not a thread of his own? :)

I agree with the assessment that the Jeux Ämes d'enfants is simply adorable: this is one of those collections that etch in some remote and privileged corner of the musical memory.

Agreed! Last night while driving home the local NPR station played this very piece (in its orchestral arrangement) — now, it could have just been my exhaustion hindering my senses, but with the combination of that ethereal music and the extremely thick fog I was driving through, I felt that for a few minutes time had stopped. I must hear more of this absolutely gorgeous music!

(http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Jean_Cras.jpg)

The article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Cras) on his life and music is a very interesting read. He was certainly a renaissance man!
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Maciek on November 11, 2008, 12:38:30 PM
Well, some people know what appeared at the top of the results when I searched for this guy the other day. It makes me ask myself: do I really want to take the risk of listening to his music?
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Dundonnell on November 11, 2008, 04:00:22 PM
Not sure that I can add much more to what I wrote about Cras on the 'What are You Listening To?" thread, except to repeat my strong recommendation for the Timpani discs :) :)

Glad you started the thread though, Corey :)
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Maciek on November 11, 2008, 05:18:39 PM
Peter also posted a recommendation of a disc with a beautiful cover - but it's gone now, for some reason... :'( (I mean his post disappeared.)
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Drasko on November 11, 2008, 05:44:15 PM
Peter also posted a recommendation of a disc with a beautiful cover - but it's gone now, for some reason... :'( (I mean his post disappeared.)

Perhaps some trigger-happy moderator found the pastelness of the picture to be offensive in these modern times and deleted it?

Anyhow I recently got this one from a friend, listened only to first disc so far and it's really beautiful, Journal de bord is a piece of first class maritime impressionism and shimmering naivete of Ames d'enfants is really as touching as Corey described, second disc has Legende for cello and orchestra and Piano Concerto.

(http://www.timpani-records.com/New_couv/2c2088.jpg)
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Dundonnell on November 11, 2008, 07:14:28 PM
http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,9.msg245246.html#msg245246
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: pjme on November 12, 2008, 05:20:09 AM
Yesterday I had some problems with my PC... everything is back to normal now.
Cybelia records doesn't exist anymore, but I suppose that they were the first to issue a CD with Cras' music : Journal de bord, Ames d'enfants and the pianoconcerto with Pierre Reach as soloist. Conductors were Pierre Stoll and James Lockhart

(http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/ippusai/imgs/1/6/167b4057-s.jpg)

It is not bad - but I'm sure the new Timpani/Luxemburg PhO sounds better...

Indeed lovely music - Debussy's shadow is unmistakingly there....


P.
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Maciek on November 12, 2008, 06:18:38 PM
Yes, this one also has a very nice cover (lucky composer ;D), but it's not the one you posted earlier.

I have it here, take a look:
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Maciek on November 12, 2008, 06:20:51 PM
And in answer to Greg's query which reached me by PM, here's what I posted on another thread a couple of days ago:
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: pjme on November 13, 2008, 12:56:53 AM
I listened to that disc again yesterday. "Ames d'enfants" is for me the work that stands out . The pianoconcerto seems less inspired ( less well constructed) and made me think of both Debussy's Fantaisie and d'Indy's Symphonie Cévenolle.
I'll listen to Journal de bord later...
In this case -the Cybelia ca 1986 recording- the orchestra sounds quite "unpleasant", with raucous horns ( concerto) and thin strings....THe music needs much more refinement and polish.

P.

Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: greg on November 13, 2008, 04:12:48 AM
And in answer to Greg's query which reached me by PM, here's what I posted on another thread a couple of days ago:
:D
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Brian on July 08, 2011, 06:38:35 AM
I've just listened to "Journal de bord," which I thought was utterly wonderful even if, at times, it sounded a bit like a slightly less showy younger sibling to Debussy's "La mer." I then switched over to the chamber music - the cello sonata, a half-hour work in three emotionally rich movements, highlighted by a really ravishing slow-movement climax which seems to come out of and melt back into nowhere, and a very satisfying quiet ending. I immediately found the score online and forwarded it to a cellist friend. Last year she performed a work in recital* after I made a similar recommendation, so perhaps those of you who live in the Texas area will get to hear Jean Cras on a recital program in 8 months' time.  8) 8)

Goodness, but the Timpani label makes the most gorgeous-looking CDs available today.

(http://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/1C1151.jpg)

*Piatigorsky's 'Paganini Variations'
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: snyprrr on July 08, 2011, 06:56:04 AM
I have the Piano Quintet, very chipper for the vintage most French PQs of this time are very Dramatic and virtuoso). The recording seems a bit harsh, though, and it does tend to minimize the pleasure, actually making it difficult for me to judge the music. I think there's more than one recording. Altogether though, this PQ might not be the best place to start.
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Brian on July 08, 2011, 07:05:41 AM
Oh my goodness. The "Ames d'enfants" were merely okay, I thought, compared to the reactions other people have had in this thread. But the string trio - good lord! What an incredible piece so far - I'm only in the first movement. But it's vivid, original, bright, instantly lovable, from a fascinating perspective with a couple of striking intrusions of Moroccan/North African folk musical lines. Good lord I am loving Jean Cras' music, and so far the string trio is absolutely tops!
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Drasko on July 08, 2011, 07:12:09 AM
Goodness, but the Timpani label makes the most gorgeous-looking CDs available today.

(http://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/1C1151.jpg)

Covers for Cras Timpani series are prints by Henri Riviere, late 19th century french lithographer and photographer mostly in japonisme style which was in huge fashion in France at turn of the century. He is the author of one of my all time favorite prints: l'Enterrement aux parapluie from 1885.

(http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/7822/enterrementauxparapluie.jpg)

Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: snyprrr on July 08, 2011, 10:08:22 AM
Oh my goodness. The "Ames d'enfants" were merely okay, I thought, compared to the reactions other people have had in this thread. But the string trio - good lord! What an incredible piece so far - I'm only in the first movement. But it's vivid, original, bright, instantly lovable, from a fascinating perspective with a couple of striking intrusions of Moroccan/North African folk musical lines. Good lord I am loving Jean Cras' music, and so far the string trio is absolutely tops!

...Just when you thought you could get out,... they pull you back in... Al Pacino

Tell me more!! :-*
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Brian on July 09, 2011, 09:49:08 AM
...Just when you thought you could get out,... they pull you back in... Al Pacino

Tell me more!! :-*

I listened to the string trio a second time last night. It's a really interesting piece, only about 22 minutes long but packs a lot in. The first movement has moments bordering on downright dissonant, chromaticism taken to the extreme, perhaps, and other moments which invoke Cras' contemporary Ravel; towards the end of the largo, though, we start to hear the intrusions of North African folk music, in very accurately hewn melodies for the violin and viola which really capture the scales of Moroccan music... the same goes for the scherzo, but my favorite part of the finale was definitely the very difficult, leaping opening dance for cello alone. A truly great diversion!

I was going to report that the piano music is less inspired - it all makes me want to listen to Ravel instead - but there is a jolting moment in Paysage No 2, "Champetre," which clear out of nowhere is as beguiling and lovely as anything Jean Cras wrote. Or so I guess - I hadn't heard Cras at all until yesterday, though now I've enjoyed nine of his works!
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Brian on July 12, 2011, 10:32:17 AM
I've just discovered - perhaps you knew - that "Cras" is "tomorrow" in Latin. So, combining his job title with his name, Jean Cras has an almost absurdly easy-to-invent superhero name: Captain Johnny Tomorrow!
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 11, 2015, 08:07:17 PM
Four years since the last post?!?!? :o

Anyway, time to reboot this thread with perhaps a little background on Cras:

(http://www.musicologie.org/Biographies/c/crass_jean_04.jpg)

Jean Cras was a gifted composer largely known for his chamber works and opera Polyphème (1912-1918). He might well have achieved greater fame had he not maintained a highly successful lifelong career in the French navy. Indeed, Cras reached the rank of rear-admiral and was decorated several times in World War I, achieving particular distinction for his valor in the Adriatic campaign. Musically, he typically garnered far less notice. For one thing, his education was modest, though ultimately adequate: he received no formal advanced training in composition, though he studied privately with Henri Duparc, who would become a lifelong friend and mentor. Cras remained a relatively obscure figure on the musical scene in France except for the final decade or so of his life. Stylistically, Cras was an Impressionist, but a freewheeling one, investing his music with occasional exotic influences inspired by his naval travels, and with Celtic and sacred elements. His later works divulged a more caustic expressive language, but without ever reaching much beyond the style of Bartók. Cras was versatile, turning out works in most genres, including opera, orchestral, chamber, choral, and song.

Jean Cras was born into a musical family in Brest, France, on May 22, 1879. His father was a brilliant naval surgeon whose example led young Jean in 1896 to enroll at the naval academy. In 1900 he relocated to Paris where he studied for three months with his newfound friend Henri Duparc.

Prior to World War I Cras was productive particularly in the realms of chamber, choral, and solo piano music. In 1921 Polyphème, not yet officially premiered, received first prize in the Concours musical de la Ville de Paris. It was premiered the following year by the Opéra-Comique in Paris with great success, and thereafter Cras was a much-in-demand composer in France. Cras now began turning more often to larger forms, as with the 1927 orchestral suite Journal de bord and the stage work Trois Noëls (1929), for vocal soloists, actors, chorus, piano, and orchestra. Cras' brilliant pianist daughter, Collette (wife of Polish émigré composer Alexandre Tansman), premiered Cras' 1931 Piano Concerto with great success. After his death in 1932 Cras was widely eulogized in France as one of the leading figures in French music. But his fame quickly evaporated and he was largely forgotten until the last decade or so of the 20th century.

[Article taken from All Music Guide]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm late to the party here (as usual), but I listened to Cras' String Trio earlier this morning and as a result bought almost all of the Timpani recordings. :) This composer has a great style and I'm really digging the fact that Impressionism seemed to influence him and that much of his music has this 'oceanic' quality to it but this is quite understandable given his main occupation in the navy.
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: The new erato on October 11, 2015, 08:45:14 PM
I'm a great fan. Of all the slightly unknown frenchmen on Timpani, Cra is by far the most interesting and I hav a fair selection of the Timpani issues. His opera Polyeucte is truly great,
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: vandermolen on October 11, 2015, 11:13:04 PM
I'm late to the party too but this looks interesting. The fact that he evidently liked cats (see initial post) is a great plus for me.  8)
Will look out for Timpani discs.
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 12, 2015, 06:54:18 AM
I'm late to the party too but this looks interesting. The fact that he evidently liked cats (see initial post) is a great plus for me.  8)
Will look out for Timpani discs.

Yeah, you should definitely check him out, Jeffrey. I was reading a post from Brian earlier on this thread stating that Cras' String Trio was a top-notch work, so this is the first work I checked and, he was right on the money, it was an awesome piece.

https://www.youtube.com/v/QN7bkwwA8TM

https://www.youtube.com/v/fBXCJ9HGji4

https://www.youtube.com/v/JdEltwrVJnw

https://www.youtube.com/v/w6L9ScolzKk
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 12, 2015, 07:16:42 AM
Jeffrey, these are all the Cras recordings I have on the way:


(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81RNRnn9nXL._SL1500_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51kqkn%2Bw2JL.jpg)
 
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51jPSsE1bCL.jpg) (http://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/2C2088.jpg)

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81uysNNkllL._SL1329_.jpg) (http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91W73q2%2BscL._SL1500_.jpg)

It should be noted that the recording of the orchestral works is a 2-CD set. The recording of Polyphème is a 3-CD set.
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: The new erato on October 12, 2015, 07:28:47 AM
Jeffrey, these are all the Cras recordings I have on the way:

It should be noted that the recording of the orchestral works is a 2-CD set. The recording of Polyphème is a 3-CD set.
Polyphème it was, not Polyeucte as I wrote (from meomy while at work).
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 12, 2015, 07:32:04 AM
Polyphème it was, not Polyeucte as I wrote (from meomy while at work).

:D Do you own any of these Cras recordings, erato? If yes, what do you make of the music? Any favorite works?
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 12, 2015, 07:37:57 AM
I'm a great fan. Of all the slightly unknown frenchmen on Timpani, Cra is by far the most interesting and I hav a fair selection of the Timpani issues. His opera Polyeucte is truly great,

Sorry I missed this post, erato. Good to hear you're a fan as well. 8)
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Brian on October 12, 2015, 07:42:39 AM
I seem to remember some of the orchestral songs being poorly/unattractively sung, but the "Flute, harp & strings" CD is one of my favorite French music CDs ever, and a lot of the orchestral music is very attractive. Maybe derivative of Debussy, but derivative in a way that is still good and enjoyable.

I've heard the cello sonata, piano trio, and piano quintet, but can't remember my impressions. Maybe time to listen again.

EDIT: Oh hey I talked about the cello sonata earlier in the thread. And those CD covers are still the best.
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Drasko on October 12, 2015, 08:42:36 AM
...the "Flute, harp & strings" CD is one of my favorite French music CDs ever, and a lot of the orchestral music is very attractive. Maybe derivative of Debussy, but derivative in a way that is still good and enjoyable.
 
...And those CD covers are still the best.

Seconded! Quintet for harp flute and string trio is one my favorite French chamber pieces. Piano Quintet is delightful as well, light and effervescent.

https://www.youtube.com/v/Q-ATDBgDbLE

Quintet for harp flute and string trio
Title: Re: Jean Cras (1879 - 1932)
Post by: Mirror Image on October 19, 2015, 05:03:01 PM
I've been listening to this recording tonight:

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/81RNRnn9nXL._SL1500_.jpg)

My initial impressions are pretty straight-forward: fantastic recording! The impression I'm getting from this music, and forgive me if this sounds cliche/mundane/moronic, that this is music of the ocean. But no violent storms here, this music is gently flowing, extremely lyrical, with plenty of interesting harmonic touches, and, it has this seafaring quality to the melodies. I'm not sure how to put my finger on it, but I feel like I'm walking down the beach and really taking in all of the sights and sounds. This music could very well be the perfect accompaniment for such a walk.