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DENSITE 21 (UK distributor Select)

François-bernard MÂCHE

L'Estuaire du temps; Braises; Andromède

Michael Levinas, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Elgar Howarth, Elisabeth Chojnacka, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Pascal Rophé, Jean-François Heisser, Jean Koerner, Gérard Frémy, Nouvel Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Gilbert Amy DE002



Flashes pour orchestre; Three Studies for a Crucifixion; Metal Music pour ensemble de cuivres et percussions; Fiberglass music

Orchestre National de France, Kurt Masur, Gérard Schwarz, Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, John Nelson, Quatuor Klimt, Elisabeth Glab, Gaëtan Biron, Emmanuel Blanc, Jean-Luc Bourré DE003


Philippe HERSANT

Concerto pour violon; Der Wanderer; Streams

Augustin Dumay (violin), Choeur de Radio France, Orchestre National de France, Jonathan Darlington, Alice Ader (piano), Orchestre Symphonique de la Radio Danoise, Thomas Dausgaard DE001


Paysage avec ruines; Im fremden Land ; Chants du Sud; Missa Brevis

Luisa Islam Ali Zade, Radio France PO, Ernest Martinez Izquierdo, Jérôme Comte, Alice Ader, Quatuor Renoir, Hélène Collerette, Musicatreize, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Roland Hayrabedian DE005

This French label is new to me and these discs, all released at full price, have been interesting to explore. I supply above links to e-biographies. I found MÂCHE the most interesting, ZAVARO the most easily approachable and entertaining, and HERSANT, a dedicated "tonal composer", attractive on first acquaintance, but both of them less so as one hears more.

MÂCHE's selection is nicely varied. L'Estuaire du temps uses a wide palate, a "concerto for sampler and orchestra" with recorded effects and processed speech. It makes for intriguing listening and I enjoyed it twice. Braises is a good vehicle for the indefatigable Elisabeth Chojnacka, who has a multitude of harpsichord commissions to her credit. Andromède is a major work which combines excitingly three pianos, orchestra and large wordless chorus. The disc is recommendable despite poor presentation.

The texts are generally less informative about the individual works than you might want, but at least you learn that Zavaro's Fiberglass Music is not about the material used to make boats, rather "fibre optics, an inert vector composed of numerous means of communication". Composed for two string quartets (here one string quartet overdubbed with itself) the music is not so interesting as Milhaud's Octet.

The presentation appeals on first sight, with book-style packaging and mysterious images on a white background, but irritation is in store when you open them up. The pictures for MÂCHE remain fragmentary and never cohere. The information is dispersed; for dates of composition you have to go to the middle of the booklet stapled in; for recording information inside the covers you encounter slippage (caused by one of these bits of imagery) which precludes details of performances and recordings being parallel to the titles, and for Savaro there is no track numbering. The French is clear black on white but, if you are English speaking and your eyesight is less than youthfully perfect, you may need a magnifying glass to cope with the miniscule verbiage in pale green italics, only occasionally paragraphed. At least the paper is white!

Peter Grahame Woolf