Cecile Chaminade - Piano Music Vol 1, Peter Jacobs

Posted By: Howards_End
Cecile Chaminade - Piano Music Vol 1, Peter Jacobs

Cecile Chaminade - Piano Music Vol 1, Peter Jacobs
Genre: Classical | FLAC | 1 CD | Covers | 208 Mb | Hyperion |

1. Chaconne Op 8 [2'28]
2. Autrefois No 4 of Pièces humoristiques Op 87 [3'19]
3. Callirhoë – Air de Ballet [1'53]
4. Solitude No 2 of Poèmes provençales Op 127 [3'47]
5. Romance in D major Op 137 [3'00]
6. L’Ondine Op 101 [3'52]
7. Scherzo in C major No 1 of Études de concert Op 35 [3'05]
8. Automne No 2 of Études de concert Op 35 [6'54]
9. Thème varié in A major Op 89 [5'05]
10. Sérénade in D major Op 29 [3'18]
11. Souvenance No 1 of Romances sans paroles Op 76 [2'19]
12. Élévation in E major No 2 of Romances sans paroles Op 76 [3'02]
13. Étude mélodique in G flat major Op 118 [3'43]
14. Étude pathétique in B minor Op 124 [3'42]
15. La lisonjera [2'20]
16. Valse romantique Op 115 [4'12]
17. Pêcheurs de nuit No 4
of Poèmes provençales Op 127 [4'33]
18. Deuxième valse Op 77 [4'52]
19. Étude scholastique Op 139 [4'49]

Cécile Louise Stéphanie Chaminade was born in Paris in 1857 and died in Monte Carlo in 1944. Although she came from a non-musical family she was something of a prodigy as a pianist and composer – she began writing sacred music at the age of eight. It was Bizet who advised Chaminade’s parents that she deserved a sound musical education: as she was unable to enter the Conservatoire (which did not then admit women) she studied privately with several teachers. These included Le Couppey (for piano), Savard (for counterpoint, harmony and fugue); she also studied violin with the celebrated Belgian Martin Marsick, a pupil of Joachim, and composition with Benjamin Godard. Furthermore, she attained proficiency as a conductor, made her concert debut at the age of eighteen, toured widely, and became a well-known public figure, eventually receiving the Légion d’Honneur from the French government.

In the course of her long life Chaminade produced around 350 works including a comic opera, a ballet, a choral symphony entitled Les amazones, chamber and orchestral music, and about a hundred songs. But the area in which she excelled and was most productive was the short lyric piano piece, and many of these became very popular, bringing her considerable commercial success and fame in France, Britain and the USA. They fed a market of domestic and salon music-making which had little use for profundity or complexity of thought but responded to graceful melody, simple forms, clear textures and dextrous, gratefully written exploitation of the medium: music, with its ‘easy velocity’, often designed to sound harder to play than it really is.

As a result, for long decades Chaminade’s reputation has been that of a mere purveyor of pleasant but deeply unimportant salon music: an ephemeral figure, virtually beneath musicological notice. (Eaglefield Hull’s admirably comprehensive Dictionary of Modern Music and Musicians of 1925 ignores her very existence; it is symptomatic of the same attitude that she rates but one passing mention in Martin Cooper’s classic volume on French music from the death of Berlioz to the death of Fauré – as ‘charming’ and ‘fashionable’ – and that The New Grove takes over unaltered and unquestioned the brief and supercilious entry from the previous edition of Grove’s Dictionary.)

But with the increasing attention being focussed in recent years upon the distinct achievements of women composers, and with belated respect thus accruing to such signally gifted figures as Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Lili Boulanger, Rebecca Clarke and Ruth Crawford, the reputation of Chaminade almost certainly calls out for upward revision. After all, as Norman Demuth perceptively remarks in his study of French piano music – which, if he cannot quite bring himself to intrude her into his main narrative, at least gives Chaminade a little ‘interlude’ chapter to herself – she was ‘nearly a genius in that she knew exactly what, and how, to write for pianists of moderate ability … we wish every writer for the piano had her innate gifts and could be equally musicianly in their own ways’. Demuth also stresses the fact that Chaminade’s music gracefully complements that of Fauré: while she may lack (or scruple to attempt) the latter’s innate profundity, she often matches him in elegance, melodic beauty and lyrical cantabile. It is hardly a criticism that she is usually easier to play.