Haven’t been very active on the website these last days, but that’s because I was active working on label discographies of the French Adès, Adda and Accord – all related not just by alphabetical order, but also because at one point they were distributed by Musidisc and shared barcodes. Lots of work, compiling all and sorting out what came out under which label.
But I’ve also been listening to various stuff and taking notes for reviews, but there is a step (and time) between that and actually writing and posting the reviews. But I finally did.
Of course, compiling those discographies, I chance on offers that are so cheap that they are hard to resist. The bargains you make if you’re ready to wait 10 or 20 years to buy a CD (I know, it’s not something record labels would like to read, and I am sawing the branch on which I am sitting… guilt guilt guilt… but money money money…).
That’s how I chanced on the composition of René Clemencic, Drachenkampf, The Fight of the Dragon, on Accord. Clemencic is mostly, and possibly exclusively, known as a recorder player, keyboard player, musicologist and conductor (with his pioneer period-instrument ensemble “Clemencic Consort”) of Medieval-to-Baroque music. But he’s a composer too. Drachenkampf, scored for wind quintet and percussion, sounds very much like a more advanced version of Carl Orff (but the later Orff of the Greek tragedies rather than the earlier and more popular Orff of Carmina Burana), but (“and” ?) I’ve enjoyed it a lot, so much so that I immediately ordered more disc’s of Clemencic’s musc.
And then, there are the three string quartets of Lucien Durosoir. I’ve been under their spell for a couple of weeks now. I had never heard of Durosoir, this is a CD I bought “blindly” from an eBay seller with a lot of bargain offers, and at 5 dollars, one can afford to take risks. Based on the label, Alpha, I even thought Durosoir was some obscure French composer from the baroque era. Wide off the mark. Born in 1878, he was a contemporary of Ravel, Schmitt, Caplet. His career began as a famed concert violinist (he is said to have given the French premiere of Brahms’ Violin Concerto), and it is only after World War One, aged 43, that he began composing. He then lived in near-complete seclusion, and apparently his scores weren’t even published. His three quartets date from 1919, 1922 and 1934. They are absolutely magnificent works, combining an exacerbated lyricism and an intricate counterpoint. Various reminiscences came to mind while listening to Durosoir’s quartets, Ravel (but, without being avant-garde, his language is more advanced then Ravel’s, and his form much freer), Schmitt, but also, especially in the 3rd Quartet, the most advanced of the three, Janacek and Britten, and still others. Not to say that his quartets are derivative. They can be listened to and enjoyed without any references. Durosoir deserves a public rediscovery.