This is the fourth in a series of programs from the French Maguelone label presenting first time recordings of the music of Reynaldo Hahn. This latest Hahn collection performed by Quatuor Gabriel with cellist Roland Pidoux pulls together four chamber works and a set of Waltzes for solo piano, all pieces appearing as world premiere recordings.
Reynaldo Hahn (1874-1947) was born in Caracas, Venezuela, the son of a prosperous engineer who, because of an increasingly unstable political atmosphere there, left South America and moved to Paris when Hahn was three years of age. Although the composer’s interest in the music of his native Venezuela is at times evident in his mature works, it’s the wistful, casual manner of la belle époque that defines his oeuvre. Hahn was an exact contemporary of Maurice Ravel, who was a classmate at the Paris Conservatoire where both were students of Massenet, Gounod and Saint-Saëns.
The program opens with the Piano Quartet in G major, a polished, expressive work in the manner of late romantic models with a very beautiful Andante movement. Following the Quartet comes Premires Valses pour Piano, which with their undulating rhythmic patterns, melodic economy and frequent three-quarter meter are perhaps the most reminiscent of the music of Caracas. The following two brief and charming works are the Concerto Inachevé for cello and piano and the Soliloque et Forlane for viola and piano. The program concludes with Venezia, a collection of six gentle and melancholy songs from Hahn’s youth, appearing here in a marvelous setting for six cellos by Roland Pidoux.
For a sampling of Hahn’s music, you can listen to the final Allegro assai movement of the Piano Quartet in the video that appears in the sidebar, and for a special treat, you can hear the complete Venezia songs sung by soprano Joyce DiDonato in the video below. Imagine how beautiful these would also be performed by six cellos! Congratulations to the Quatuor Gabriel for their exceedingly fine performances, and many thanks to Maguelone for this gratifying ongoing Reynaldo Hahn project.
This second volume of chamber music includes several new pieces to the disk. Concerto for Cello unfinished is proposed here in the version with piano written by the composer. As for the transcription of a song cycle “Venezia” for cello sextet, it is a delight for the ears thanks to the talent of Roland Pidoux.
Reynaldo Hahn, composer
Reynaldo Hahn (1874 – 1947) was a Venezuelan, naturalised French, composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director, and salon singer. Best known as a composer of songs, he wrote in the French classical tradition of the mélodie. The fine craftsmanship, remarkable beauty, and originality of his works capture the insouciance of la belle époque.
Quatuor Gabriel, string quartet
The Gabriel Quartet was founded in 1988 by four graduates of the Paris Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique. The Quartet is named as a tribute to Faure (they have become renowned performers of his works) and was created to meet the demands of a repertoire which the four musicians see as requiring the regular and intensely close work of a permanent string quartet.
Roland Pidoux, cello
A true Renaissance man, cellist Roland Pidoux has explored every avenue of classical music. Soon after completing his studies with André Navarra, Jean Hubeau and Joseph Calvet, he founded, with Jean-Pierre Wallez, l’Ensemble Instrumental de France. He has been a member of the Quatour Via Nova and the Trio Pasquier, and has performed with Isaac Stern, Pierre Fournier, Mistislav Rostropovitch, and Jean-Pierre Rampal.