I was not aware of the excellence of Pierre De Bréville's music and must say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I discovered. The First Violin Sonata is typical of its time; that is a salon evening in the palaces of the super rich with Proust like characters that the inimitable French writer describes so vividly in his monumental 'Remembrance of Things Past'. Canteloube's suite is very vivid and singularly expressive, quite similar to his equally atmospheric 'Songs of the Auvergne' but also different in many ways.
Graffin plays with a commanding and vivid tone in the opening 'Mouvement modere' that frames the first movement of Breville's sonata. The third and fourth movements last exactly ten minutes each and again, Graffin is a masterly exponent of the romantic shades and hues that Bréville creates. Devoyon is a fine accompanist, as other discs by this duo have demonstrated, and he provides thoughtful yet incisive piano playing through the sonata. It is definitely a work that deserves to be rescued from the oblivion in which it currently sits.
Canteloubes' music rests on his popular 'Songs of the Auvergne' but this lovely suite is even more atmospheric in scope and programmatic elements. The wide vistas of the French mountains are evident in the imaginative music that soars and sweeps in passages of great melodic beauty. Graffin and Devoyon paint the tone pictures with consummate mastery throughout and the final 'Danse' quite boisterous and full of unabashed exuberance. This is truly a work that deserves resurrection from its current neglect.
Martin Anderson provides detailed and fascinatingly informative notes on both works while the recording is exemplarily balanced between violin and piano. As Anderson says in his introduction, both of these composers deserve to be better known and if this disc serves part of that purpose, than so be it.
Copyright © 2004, Gerald Fenech