Gouvy: Cantate, Oeuvres Symphoniques et Musique de Chambre

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There’s not a single work here that will not captivate you with its breathtaking beauty.Each volume in the "Portraits" series is devoted to a French...

There’s not a single work here that will not captivate you with its breathtaking beauty.

Each volume in the "Portraits" series is devoted to a French composer who has now largely been forgotten; it presents a panorama of his works, performed by many artists from various backgrounds. Torn between France and Germany during his lifetime as a result of the turbulent political situation in his native Lorraine, Theodore Gouvy was recognized by neither nation after his death. The music of this composer, inspired by the passionate style of Mendelssohn, magnified by the nobility of French academicism, is nevertheless of great importance. This CD-book presents a significant selection of his works - for the most part never heard before - along with biographical information, excerpts from letters, and articles discussing the composer's style and personality.

REVIEW:

For most of the works on these three discs these are first recordings. As far as I can tell, only the Piano Trio No. 4 in a performance by Voces Intimae on Challenge Classics, and the Sinfonietta in a performance by Jacques Mercier and the German Radio Philharmonic on CPO, have previously appeared on disc; and that’s my segue into describing this very special and very elaborate collection.

I’m not going to give a detailed description of each of the works on these three CDs, other than to say there’s not a single one of them that will not captivate you with its breathtaking beauty. The Fantaisie Pastorale for violin and orchestra is styled in somewhat similar vein to some of Saint-Saëns’s lesser-known violin pieces. It’s tunefully rural in that easygoing sort of French folksong-y way that characterizes Bizet’s L’Arlésienne music, and it’s sweetly, even chirpily played by soloist Tedi Papavrami.

Gouvy composed La Religieuse, translated in the notes as “The Nun,” in 1875, shortly after completing two of his liturgically-based works, the Requiem and a Stabat Mater. Curiously, though, the text to La Religieuse is rather at odds with its title, for it’s described as a secular cantata after a poem by Charles Hubert Millevoye, and it was written for famed mezzo-soprano Pauline Viardot. If the woman portrayed in these verses is indeed a nun, she needs to be doing some serious penance, for she seems to be pining away and longing for death over some lost lover. Listening to this gloriously beautiful extended dramatic setting for mezzo and orchestra, it’s hard to understand why Gouvy wasn’t successful in his two attempts at an opera. Clémentine Margaine is magnificent.

One wonders if Gouvy didn’t have Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words in mind when he composed his Sérénades for solo piano. The keyboard figurations and flourishes are closer to Chopin than they are to Mendelssohn, but the melodies are pure song. I’m probably guilty of overusing the words “beautiful” and “gorgeous” in my reviews, but I don’t know what other adjectives to summon for a description of these brief salon gems, so winsomely and winningly played by pianist Emmanuelle Swiercz.

With his Byron-based Le Giaour, Schiller-based Jeanne d’Arc, and non-literary-based Festival overtures, Gouvy proves himself a master of the concert overture/tone poem/orchestral fantasy genre on a par with Berlioz, Dvořák, Liszt, Saint-Saëns, and Tchaikovsky.

Gouvy’s chamber works—represented here by two string quartets and a piano trio—range in content and style from somewhere between Haydn to Spohr, Onslow, Conradin Kreutzer, and Mendelssohn, with one composer conspicuous by his absence: There’s not a trace of Beethoven.

If you’ve heretofore been hesitant to sample the music of Théodore Gouvy, I’d strongly encourage you to acquire this collection, which allows you to familiarize yourself with his music in a number of distinct genres. The performances are all really good, the recordings excellent, and the lavishly appointed book they come in a conversation piece unto itself

-- Fanfare



Product Description:


  • Release Date: February 25, 2014


  • UPC: 9788493968670


  • Catalog Number: ES1014


  • Label: Ediciones Singulares


  • Number of Discs: 3


  • Period: Romantic


  • Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy


  • Conductor: Jacques Mercier, Christian Arming


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Cambini-Paris Quartet, Parisii Quartet, Trio Arcadis, Liège Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Lorraine National Orchestra


  • Performer: Clémentine Margaine, Tedi Papavrami, Emmanuelle Swiercz



Works:


  1. Sinfonietta, Op. 80

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Liège Philharmonic Orchestra

    Conductor: Christian Arming


  2. Fantasie Pastorale in F Major

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Liège Philharmonic Orchestra

    Performer: Tedi Papavrami (Cello)

    Conductor: Christian Arming


  3. La religieuse

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Liège Philharmonic Orchestra

    Performer: Clémentine Margaine (Mezzo Soprano)

    Conductor: Christian Arming


  4. Serenade No. 2 in A-Flat Major, Op. 4

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Performer: Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano)


  5. Serenade No. 14 in D-Flat Major, Op. 39

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Performer: Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano)


  6. Serenade No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 7

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Performer: Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano)


  7. Serenade No. 15 in G Major, Op. 39

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Performer: Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano)


  8. Serenade No. 11 in A-Flat Major, Op. 38

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Performer: Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano)


  9. Serenade No. 17 in A Minor, Op. 53

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Performer: Emmanuelle Swiercz (Piano)


  10. Le Giaour Overture, Op. 14

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Lorraine National Orchestra

    Conductor: Jacques Mercier


  11. Jeanne d'Arc Overture, Op. 13

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Lorraine National Orchestra

    Conductor: Jacques Mercier


  12. Le Festival Overture, Op. 14

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Lorraine National Orchestra

    Conductor: Jacques Mercier


  13. Quartet for Strings No. 4 in A Minor, Op. 56, No. 2

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Quatuor Cambini-Paris


  14. Trio for Piano and Strings No. 4 in F Major, Op. 22

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Trio Arcadis


  15. Quartet for Strings No. 5, Op. 68

    Composer: Louis Théodore Gouvy

    Ensemble: Quatuor Parisii