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Maurice Ohana Works for Harpsichord and a lost Trumpet Concertino

Elisabeth Chojnacka, harpsichord

Béatrice Daudin, percussions - Fabrice Mélinon, hautbois - Miklós Nagy, cor
Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg/Arturo Tamayo
Timpani 1C1069 [c.61 mins]

Miroir de Célestine (Première mondiale), pour clavecin & percussions
Deux Pièces pour clavecin (Wamba - Conga)
So Tango (Première mondiale)
Sacral d'Ilx, pour clavecin, hautbois & cor
Carillons pour les heures du jour et de la nuit
Sarabande, pour clavecin & orchestre

Eric Aubier, trumpet
with Orchestre de Bretagne/Jean-Jacques Kantorow
Trumpet Concertos by Ohana, Escaich & Bacri
Pierre Verany PV703021

Maurice Ohana (1914-1992) was a true original who has gradually built a substantial posthumous reputation on record. I met him in London at a pre-concert talk at St John's Smith Square which was attended by only about half a dozen people. He took this in his stride, was friendly and interesting in what he told us of his unusually cosmopolitan life and compositions. Harry Halbreich has long been a champion, and his CD liner notes amount to practically a book; he included him amongst his Salon des Refusés at Lisbon, and I have had many opportunities to review and recommend CDs of Ohana's music.

These two CDs are both welcome additions to his discography. Halbreich characterizes the Chojnacka collection as An Iberian Harpsichord, and the influence of Falla can be felt in the Celestine pieces and Tiento. His notes are, as always, compendious and timpani's production values are of the highest in all respects.

Elisabeth Chojnacka featured Ohana at Cheltenham last year, and is the foremost interpreter of the contemporary harpsichord. The programme on the new CD is greatly various, with alluring combinations of support; an array of exotic percussion for Miroir de Célestine, and Sacral d'Ilx has oboe and horn providing Spanish colour (Debussy had planned that combination for one of his incomplete series of late sonatas). The Sarabande is 'a piece of austere grandeur in the tradition of Falla's Concerto' (Halbreich) and brings this absorbing CD to a satisfying conclusion. I have played it through several times and commend it to musical explorers.

Ohana's trumpet concertino is a strange case. Composed in 1957 and premiered in 1963, he stipulated that it should not be published until after his death - no-one knows why! As a consequence it is not mentioned in any musicological works. It contrasts the trumpet with elaborate rhythmic accompanying structures, with jazz and Arab-Berber influences in the haunting slow movement, which requires difficult glissandi from the player. Eric Aubier is in the Hardenberger class and seems able to do anything on his trumpet with insouciant ease and this Vol.2 of his The French Trumpet (with concertos by contemporary French composers Thierry Escaich and Nicolas Bacri) is well worth trying.

Peter Grahame Woolf

© Peter Grahame Woolf