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Matalon: Trames II, IV, VIII

LES SIECLES - F. X. Roth

Musicales Actes Sud

 

Following their recent Saint-Saëns recording on historical instruments (reviewed August 2011), Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth now turn to the Parisian-based Argentinian composer Martin Matalon, with evident relish. Roth is a keen advocate of Matalon’s music and this disc captures gripping performances of three pieces from his Trames series. Literally ‘weft’, the title can also translate as ‘threads’. These works explore the boundary between chamber music and concertante pieces. As Matalon explains: ‘My Trames simply suggest the interweaving inherent in each composition, the thread of Ariadne within.’

 

The three presented here are engaging works. Like other recent composers, Matalon seems, in Trame II, to view the harpsichord as an essentially manic creature. Nonetheless, the instrumentation, which includes bandoneon and steel drums, is treated with great sensitivity, the music periodically dissolving magically into silence. The fizzing piano moto perpetuo of Trame IV is even more driven, right until the exquisitely unexpected coda. The questioning marimba of Trame VIII appears at times to be in a mesmerising half-remembered, improvised dream, eventually resulting in an eerie concluding shiver. The three soloists are entirely convincing in this compelling music. Les Siècles are an ensemble to watch. Christopher Dingle  | 20 January 2012

 


Matalon: Trames II, IV, VIII | Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth | Musicales Actes Sud

 

20 January 2012 

Following their recent Saint-Saëns recording on historical instruments (reviewed August 2011), Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth now turn to the Parisian-based Argentinian composer Martin Matalon, with evident relish. Roth is a keen advocate of Matalon’s music and this disc captures gripping performances of three pieces from his Trames series. Literally ‘weft’, the title can also translate as ‘threads’. These works explore the boundary between chamber music and concertante pieces. As Matalon explains: ‘My Trames simply suggest the interweaving inherent in each composition, the thread of Ariadne within.’

The three presented here are engaging works. Like other recent composers, Matalon seems, in Trame II, to view the harpsichord as an essentially manic creature. Nonetheless, the instrumentation, which includes bandoneon and steel drums, is treated with great sensitivity, the music periodically dissolving magically into silence. The fizzing piano moto perpetuo of Trame IV is even more driven, right until the exquisitely unexpected coda. The questioning marimba of Trame VIII appears at times to be in a mesmerising half-remembered, improvised dream, eventually resulting in an eerie concluding shiver. The three soloists are entirely convincing in this compelling music. Les Siècles are an ensemble to watch. Christopher Dingle

 

 

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STRAVINSKY The Firebird & • François-Xavier Roth, cond; Les Siècles • LES SIÈCLES LIVE

ASM 06 (60:12) Live: Paris 10/2/2010, Laon 10/9/2010 

& GLAZUNOV The Seasons: Pas de deux; Bacchanale. SINDING Danse orientale. ARENSKY Nuits égyptienne. GRIEG Le Djinn 

 

Sur instruments d’époque, announces the cover. That is, the instruments of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, “crafted in French workshops, gut strings, and a playing style straight out of the Conservatoire de Paris master classes.” The strings are 22/8/7/6. Every wind instrument is identified by maker and by date, from 1889 to 1930. There are three harpists and seven percussionists. It all works; the disc makes a charming, thoroughly engaging impression. Judging from recordings of French orchestras made early in the 20th century, these 2010 players are far more skilled and attentive than their 1910 counterparts. Even the names of the musicians generate a romantic, exotic aura: Amaryllis Billet, Quentin Jaussaud, Aurore Pingard, Valeria Kafelnikov—I could go on and on. The recorded sound from both venues is reverberant but gorgeous. 

 

The miscellaneous pieces come first on this disc, because they are not encores but rather a reconstruction of a Diaghilev ballet, Les Orientales , which preceded The Firebird at its June 25, 1910, premiere. The original scores may not have been available to Les Siècles, as the Sinding and Grieg pieces have been reorchestrated by Charlie Piper and Bruno Mantovani respectively. Most are familiar nuggets—the type of music Beecham called lollipops. Lots of fun, they would have made a delightful evening at the ballet, until The Firebird made people forget they existed. Today the Stravinsky score is so ubiquitous that Les Orientales is a refreshing change, exotic in its own genteel way. 

 

We have become accustomed to modern performances by crack symphony orchestras—I’m thinking of the Concertgebouw’s stunning Firebird Suite on its own label—that deliver maximum excitement and whiplash precision. That’s a shame, in a way, as it makes this marvelously evocative performance seem a bit sleepy at times. (I’ve said it before: There are moments of routine fill in the complete Firebird. ) There is no way that gut strings can deliver the punch of steel, but they offer their own rewards. I’m convinced that this is a realistic reconstruction of the original performances of both these ballets, and I recommend this disc as a wonderful time capsule. Oh! To have been there, for The Firebird, Petrushka , and Le Sacre du printemps. 

 

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