Flex Ensemble – Au Suivant!

Au Suivant!

Musiklabel: Avi
Form: Audio CD
Veröffentlichungsdatum: 2019

 

Our second album (Next!) highlights three different genres of French music: A youthful work by Fauré, written in the late romantic piano quartet tradition, character pieces by Ravel in a new arrangement for piano quartet and an eclectic mix of contemporary interpretations of French Chansons from Claude Le Jeune up to Georges Brassens.

Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) »Ma mère l’Oye« (»Mutter Gans«) in einer Bearbeitung für Klavierquartett von Shintaro Sakabe

  • I. Pavane de la belle au bois dormant
  • II. Petit poucet
  • III. Laideronnette, impératrice des pagodes
  • IV. Les entretiens de la belle et de la bête
  • V. Le jardin féerique

Project Chanson »französische Chansons neu bearbeitet für Klavierquartett«

  • Johannes Schöllhorn (*1962) »plus blanche« | Chanson nach Claude le Jeune (1528-1600)
  • Sebastiaan Koolhoven (*1959) »Au Suivant« | Jacques Brel (1929-1978)
  • Gordon Williamson (*1974) »Chanson Ruée« (2017)
  • Gérard Pesson (*1958) »Rentrez soupirs« | nach Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
  • Konstantinos Raptis (*1973) »Flambée Montalbanaise« | Gus Viseur (1915-1974)

Gabriel Fauré »Klavierquartett c-Moll, op. 15«

  • I. Allegro molto moderato
  • II. Scherzo. Allegro vivo – Trio
  • III. Adagio
  • IV. Finale. Allegro molto

It all began with Fauré… his C minor Piano Quartet is one of the earliest works that we learned as an ensemble. We immediately formed a personal connection to the quartet, perhaps one of Fauré’s most popular chamber music works. With its emotional core, instrumental colour, flowing but clear form, and the fascinating story behind its creation, we embraced the challenge of exploring our sound and furthering our comprehension of French musical literature.

Some years later we received an unexpected gift: The first movement of Ravel’s Ma Mère l´Oye arranged for piano quartet by our friend Shintaro Sakabe. “Try it,” he said, “I think it might work”. The success of this first movement quickly led to him arranging the rest of the suite. Each handwritten movement came in one by one, unexpected presents we gleefully opened at the start of rehearsals. Before long, we were including his arrangement in our concert programs. The magic of this version lies, we think, in the fact that Shintaro based it on the four-hand piano version instead of the orchestral version. It is very intimate, personal and objective, but we sometimes get a wave of the orchestral sound. It is perhaps the very essence of the French chamber music tradition.

But the idea that brought everything together for this recording was Project Chanson. The idea origins from my personal experience; without understanding French, I was always drawn to French Chansons. They popped up on my father’s mixed tapes in the car and, as a teenager, I was fascinated by the extremely emotional songs like “ne me quitte pas” by Brel. The fact that I barely understood the text didn’t bother me: The theatrical gestures, the beautiful orchestrations and the way they delivered these incomprehensible texts were very powerful to me. If I could be moved by this music without understanding the text, would it be possible to perform French Chansons in a version for piano quartet without voice? Would the message or the character stay alive? This is what I was debating and, after convincing my Flex friends, we approached 3 composers and 2 arrangers. It was important to all of us that we would receive 5 totally different songs, hopefully in differing styles. And that is exactly what happened.

Gordon Williamson decided to make fun of the entire genre, his Chanson Ruée is a minute-long caricature of French Chanson. The Rhythm and length of phrases are there, but it has been radically sped up and he uses many percussive playing techniques and undefined tones (an attentive listener might recognize some Georges Brassens along the way….). On many occasions our audience burst out in laughter after hearing it.

Johannes Schöllhorn chose to arrange a song by Claude Le Jeune (1528-1600). The original harmonies are reduced to single staccato chords in the piano from which faint, barely audible chords appear in the strings. This strikingly clear material is presented in an almost painfully slow tempo, creating a strong tension for both the audience and the performers.

Sebastiaan Koolhoven chose to arrange Brel´s Au Suivant. We love that this arrangement comes from a totally different genre. The desperate, angry and disappointed outcry has been translated very well in this highly emotional arrangement.

Konstantinos Raptis, also a good friend of the ensemble, has made quite a few tango arrangements for us. He approached this challenge in a totally different way. The introduction is quite mysterious and develops into a jazzy Musette that comes to a crazy and virtuosic explosion.