“Paris 1937” = JEAN RIVIER: Petite Suite; CHARLES TRENET: J’ai ta main; MAURICE FRANCK: Trio; JOHN HESS/CHARLES TRENET: Vous, qui passez sans me voir; PIERRE-OCTAVE FERROUD: Trio en Mi; NACIO HERB BROWN: Alone (Seul); ÉMILE GOUÉ: Trois Pièces; REYNALDO HAHN: Églogue; STAN GOLESTAN: Petite Suite bucolique; DINO OLIVIERI: Tornerai (J’attendrai) – Trio Lézard (Stéphane Egeling, oboe, English horn/Jan Creutz, clarinet, saxophone, bass clarinet/Stefan Hoffmann, bassoon, contrabassoon) – Coviello Classics COV91408, 59:59 [Distr. by Naxos] (8/26/14) ****:.
This is a fascinating and largely entertaining album of works intended to pay tribute to the “Trio d’anches de Paris (Reed Trio of Paris)” that was well known in Paris during the 1920s and 1930s. Specifically, the combination of a reed trio (clarinet, oboe and bassoon) was a bit of an oddity throughout Europe and was an instrumentation and genre that not only began in France but was seen as quite “French” for ever more.
The “Trio d’anches de Paris” was, at one point, the most well-known and successful purveyors of this combination and local composers wrote a fair number of works for them; whose members included Myrtil Moore, oboe; Pierre Lefebvre, clarinet and Fernand Oubradous, bassoon. Oubradous was the founder and organizer and the clarinetist Lefebvre is known to clarinetists for writing some charming little works and arranging others. I do not know much about the double reed players.
It strikes me as a wonderful idea that the Trio Lézard would want to record an album filled with works that were popularized by their predecessors or at least typify the music of the time. All of this music is very “French” – which stereotypically – tends to mean somewhat light, brief, technically clever and even a little light-hearted or what some might consider a bit silly. I always think of the music by the group “Lés Six” (such as Milhaud and Auric) to categorize the sound.
Harmonies and voicings are always a little unusual and occasionally a strange timbre (like soprano sax or contrabassoon) is thrown in to maintain the frothy, somewhat amusing textures. None of these composers was, for me, a household name though I have heard some Rivier before. Maybe none of these works will qualify for a “masterwork” but this is salon music, maybe café music; right down to the images I get of sidewalks filled with Parisians with demitasse cups and the occasional cigarette while the Trio entertains.
Personally, I did like the Rivier Petite Suite the best and I also took great enjoyment from the Ferroud Trio en Mi and the Stan Golestan Petite Suite bucolique, which has an oddly eastern European tinge that I enjoyed. The other works were all nice or cute or entertaining in their own way.
The Trio Lézard is a terrific group and Stéphane Egeling, Jan Creutz and Stefan Hoffmann are all very fine players. I recommend this collection especially for woodwind aficionados looking for some fairly exotic new rep but I do think almost anyone will like the very casual, quirky sounds that conjure up something from a Jean Renoir film. Vive La France!