[Grand angle] Composers spoiled by recordings

Phonographic publishing does much to convey the trends observed in the concert hall, where music institutions now want to reflect the societies in which they have developed. Programming of works by color composers is on the rise. We began exploring last Saturday, with Afro-American and Ukrainian composers, the extent to which this sonic windfall pragmatically allows us to hope to expand our repertoire. Female composers are even more spoiled.

This overview has a very specific purpose. Recordings, thanks to the diversity of works, make it possible to find composers — here women composers — or, more specifically, works that can find a rightful place in our concert halls.

A number of institutions now adhere to the “equality, diversity, inclusion” doctrine, without being clearly able to distinguish parts of faith, opportunism, conformism or the simple instinct of conservation (subsidies and sponsors threatening to ‘go away’). There’s nothing worse than integrating scores for just “checkbox” facts.

It remains to be determined, with our music education system ravaged by disaster, how the programming of Samuel Coleridge Taylor or Louise Farrenc brought about the sociological expansion of concertgoers, but one thing is certain: through the artistic quality of the work on offer. that we will ensure the legitimacy of the approach.

Purified values

The last two years have established the names of female composers such as Florence Price or Louise Farrenc and several others. It’s time to sort through their works.

A true star and symbol of the “revival”, made public thanks to Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Florence Price (1887-1953), the first major black composer, was revealed by conductor John Jeter at Naxos. At the head of the Philharmonie du Württemberg, Jeter has just recorded 3e CD price: two concert offers, Oak songs, Oak, Colonial Dance and Dance Series. That Concert Overture noh 2 (1943), with the theme spiritual known, definitely has a great future.

The last two years have established the names of female composers, such as Florence Price or Louise Farrenc and several others.

Price is convenient in the small form of the program. The orchestra gets a little rough, it’s a version of getting to know these pieces while waiting for the American orchestra to get down there.

It was Edna Stern who gave Hélène de Montgeroult (1764-1836) a big boost. Clare Hammond’s new disc on Bis links 27 studies among more than 100 existing studies. From this point of view, Stern, varying musical genres (studies, sonatas), better shows how Montgeroult paved the way for Schubert. His companion disc, for now, the complete sonata by Nicolas Horvath is being published in late 2021 by Grand Piano.

In the same register, namely study pianistically, we should be interested in the first volume of Louise Farrenc’s complete piano works. Four cycles and 87 studies on two discs, the most of world premieres. Maria Stratigou, as part of her doctorate which also made her revise the scores, took three years to record them all. Post-Beethoven and para-Mendelssohn cycles Thirty studies op. 26 (1833-1838), which lasts 70 minutes, is a gem.

The CPO continued to publish the formidable Émilie Mayer symphonies (1812-1883). The twist that testosterone intellectuals found at the time to silence him was a refusal to publish his works so that orchestras could not play them.

Mayer’s style is in the middle of the Weber or Schubert genre (Symphonynobone 5 and 6). CPO is deposited here Symphony nbone 3 and 7 to the wonderful Jan Willem de Vriend and to the Radiophilharmonie de la NDR. The perfect initiative, due to the revival of the 4th orchestral piecee categories can be frustrating. This is the case with the “Military Symphony” (nooh 3) by Mayer, previously recorded in Bremerhaven and then in Schwerin. So here’s finally a solid reference with better coupling: a Symphony noh 7 without subtitles, but even more interesting.

By the great British composer Ethel Smyth, the Villiers Quartet recorded String Quartet (1902-1912) for Naxos. But nothing particularly memorable. Sound recording muted, quartet playing, tele and Quartetas it is, leaving a diffused, stringy impression.

Fanny Hensel, Mendelssohn’s sister, devotedly composed for the piano. Selecting his program for the Ars label, Sontraud Speidel, like Edna Stern for Hélène de Montgeroult, offers a wide range of works that show influences ranging from Bach to Schumann. These are fifteen short piano pieces, but the romantically inspired music is exquisite. That Wordless melody noh 2 not to be missed.

The last “celebrity”, but in the Baroque universe, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (1665-1729), known for her works for the harpsichord and sonatas for violin, served by the disc Evidence from the Amarillis Ensemble which presents the cantata Mixture and Juditha moderately stimulating publication intended for specialists in the French Baroque of the early 18th centurye century.


In the Baroque repertoire, a combination of three releases draws our attention to Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704), a nun from Novara, in northern Italy, who presented at the last Montreal Baroque Festival. This find is much more interesting than Jacquet de la Guerre’s cantata.

CD Brilliant offers all 11 Sonata in three operations. 16 by Giardino at the Delizie Ensemble. nice disc, that we find out more on YouTube. For more variety and vocals one can turn to the Toccata releases: Solos and Duos Motets, Trio Sonatas and “Cantata Morale”. Unfortunately, the sound recordings are so colorful and artificial that they are disappointing.

In the Baroque repertoire, a combination of three releases draws our attention to Isabella Leonarda (1620-1704), a nun from Novara, in northern Italy, who presented at the last Montreal Baroque Festival.

Therefore we will know, through Portrait of Isabella Leonarda, with essential, sometimes abundant, sometimes intimate vocal work. La Capella Artemisia is respectable, but far from a cutting-edge vocal ensemble.

Hence for now, for want of something better, the wisest way to get to know the surprisingly sensual music of this musician nun.

The greatest inventions are closer to us: Charlotte Sohy (1887-1955), heroine of the extraordinary box Charlotte Sohy, composer of Belle Époque, published by The box of nuggets. Three discs: piano, quartet, orchestra. We think so many talents deserve a book. Finished ! The Forgotten Symphonyby chefs Debora Waldman and Pauline Sommelet, at Robert Laffont.

That Three nostalgic songs as Two poems sung for mezzo should be integrated into the OSM or OM repertoire, especially since we have the voices here to sing it even better than Aude Extrémo on disc. As the publisher’s name suggests, all nuggets in this nectar of French music are both pre-Debussy and post-Indy. sentimental story will fit easily into any orchestral performance and the quartet (by Quatuor Hermès) is excellent. This is “the” very large publication of this overview.

Even closer to us, Englishwoman Ruth Gipps (1921-1999) is honored with an anthology of her orchestral works published by Chandos under the direction of Rumon Gamba. Volume 2 was recently aimed at seasoned British music collectors (Arnold, Delius, Irish come first), but reveals both a Oboe Concerto in D minor (1941) was a success, Gipps himself was also an oboist, and a Symphony noh 3 (1965) impressive orchestral mastery.

To this monograph are added various “transversal” discs with evocative titles, such as Wifeon Naxos, melodies with many oriental accents or two volumes are titled The Future Is Female on First Hand Recordings by pianist Sarah Cahill, the program has for centuries amassed as many names of female composers as possible with a thick piano sound. Within the genre, that is he/hers by Canadian violinist Lara St. John, the most consistent, because it boasts almost the only female composers of our time and therefore allows us to hear Gabriela Lena Frank and Jessie Montgomery, two of the new muses of American programmers. Which is by no means a guarantee of quality in itself…

To see in the video

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