Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Fauré, Kosma & Harvey

(4th of 6 concerts) - Shaw Theatre, Euston, 26 March 2006


Gabriel FAURÉ
Sicilienne op. 78 (trombone and piano)
Pleurs d'or op. 72 (trombone, baritone and piano)
Vocalise erode (trombone and piano)
Nocturne 11, op. 104, No.1 (piano) .
Horizon chimerique (baritone and piano)
Prison op. 83, no.l (trombone and piano)
Apres un reve op.7, no.l (trombone and piano)
Puisqu'ici bas toute Arne (trombone, baritone and piano)
La Tarentelle (trombone, baritone and piano)

Jonathan HARVEY
Ricercare una melodia (trombone and electronics)
Benediction (baritone and piano)

Joseph KOSMA
En sonant de l'c!cole (trombone, baritone and piano) Si tU t'imagines (trombone, baritone and piano) Le jour et la riuit (trombone, baritone and piano) Duo (trombone and piano)
Chant du ghetto (piano)
Chanson de la misere
Barbara (trombone, baritone and piano)
Les Feuilles mones (trombone, baritone and piano) Lueur dans la nuit (trombone, baritone and piano)

A Sunday evening in the comfortable setting of The Shaw Theatre (for those who don't yet know this venue it's a new modern building nestling in the shadow of the vast British Library) – a relaxed audience, a trio of dedicated performers, and a cleverly chosen programme of music designed to both soothe and stimulate.

The combination of baritone and piano is of course familiar, but add in a trombone and at once the boundaries have shifted and whole new vista of sound pictures begin to emerge. The voice-like qualities of the trombone were exemplified by Benny Sluchin's relaxed style, allowing melody to blossom. His instrument replaced the baritone completely in some of the songs, and was particularly effective when transposed down an octave from the normal vocal line in Fauré's Prison.

The choice of repertoire again brought us subtly into soothe or stimulate territory: Faure's Apres un reve, written in 1878, is so well known (and loved) but was balanced here by his neglected setting of Victor Hugo's Puisqu'ici bas toute ame composed at around the same time. We were also treated to L'Horizon chimerique Op 118, the last songs that Fauré wrote.

The Fauré songs encompassed a period of more than forty years; the jump forward to those of Joseph Kosma is a mere twenty, and he's very much a composer about whose work the jury is still out.

During his life-time the hit song (Autumn Leaves) overshadowed his undoubted other achievements, whilst musicologists pressed the case for his film scores for Le Grande Illusion (1937) and Les Enfants du Paradis (1945). Now perhaps the tide is turning again in favour of his songs. Last night we were treated to two of his best Les Feuilles mortes (more often recorded in English as Autumn Leaves , but there are plenty of French versions … by Edith Piaf and Alain Barriere amongst others) and Barbara (here I have to confess that the Les Freres Jacques parody has been permanently etched into my mind).

Baritone Robert Gildon stood in at short notice for François le Roux, who was originally listed for this concert. Not long enough to be confident “off book”, nor to really communicate with his audience, but good enough to show off a fine lyric baritone and perhaps help to bring Kosma back into the repertoire.

A nice way to spend a Sunday evening – I hope to return for more.

Serena Fenwick

I have known and admired Jeff Cohen through his many recordings with François Le Roux which I had reviewed and recommended a decade and more ago (Kosma Decca 469 050-2) and was glad of the opportunity to see him play and meet him afterwards. He is extraordinarily 'laid back', sitting low at the keyboard, his body and hands relaxed with economy of movement belying his concentration on the music. The inclusion of some rarely heard later Fauré (the lovely austere 11th Nocturne & L'Horizon chimerique) gave the programme a special flavour.

This concert was presented informally, all the artists staying on stage throughout, and introducing items to the audience. It represented an early stage of a fruitful experimental collaboration with Suchin, a noted trombonist on the Paris contemporary music scene. The Jonathan Harvey items (Cohen managing the live electronics) gave us another angle on the trombone's versatility. They deliberately chose to explore in duet singer and brass of the same register, and the flexibility of the trombone, and its ability to play soft as well as loud, was very evident. There could be a novel CD in gestation. (PGW)