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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nice Music in an Unlikely Place

Georges AURIC (1899-1983)
Cinq Bagatelles (Transcribed by Philippe Lesgourgues) (1925-26) [7:41]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto in g minor (1728) [10:05]
Georges BARBOTEU (b. 1924)
Burlesque (1989) [11:48]
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)
Trio, Op. 87 (1794) [18:13]
Astor PIAZOLLA (1921-1992)
Adios Nonino (transcribed by. Frédéric Barboteu) (1969) [3:05]

Trio Quantz
Philippe Lesgourgues, (flute)
Frédéric Barboteu, (oboe)
Jacuqes Thareau, (bassoon)

Recorded June 1999 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Pierre, Paris.

QUANTUM 7009 [51:01]

This disc is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover. First impressions would lead one to believe that this was a made on the cheap disc produced and distributed by some local university music department. But no! What we have here is just under an hour of delightful and on the whole, unusual music, performed with great élan and musicianship.

Georges Auric, a member of les Six, was best known for his film music. Yet he left behind some real gems in his concert music; music that is regrettably obscure and rarely programmed. These little bagatelles are chock full of with and tuneful charm. Over in less than eight minutes, if you are not paying attention, you could miss something really important. These are worth a careful listen with headphones!

Next up is a charming concerto by Vivaldi, and the note are unclear as to whether or not this is a transcription, but it could well be a sort of modified trio sonata for winds. Whatever its origins, it works. The Trio Quantz delivers an elegant well balanced performance.

The other real find here is the witty and sometimes acerbic Burlesque Georges Barboteu, whom one might easily guess is the father of the oboist on this recording. This is a tuneful work that is not in the least hampered by its witty dissonances. Mssr. Barboteu uses his harmonic bite with great taste and discretion, and I found this work to be one of the most refreshing and enjoyable of the lot.

If there are any real flaws to be found in our ensemble’s playing, it is in the Beethoven trio, in which our flutist cannot quite come to grips with the scale and arpeggio passages at the group’s chosen tempi. Gestures that should be crystal clear are often muddied, and this messiness stands out in rather stark contrast to the clear and punctuated playing of the double-reeders.

That minor quibble out of the way, we conclude with Piazolla’s lovely tribute to the memory of his father, an improvisatory work that can last up to a half an hour. This arrangement comes in at just over three minutes, and makes for the perfect conclusion to this musical string of pearls. One could wish for better packaging though. The sepia tone photo on the front cover looks like it came out of the sixties, and the rather dull presentation would not entice a casual buyer to try this out. The typos in the program do not help matters either.

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