Posted by Grigorian.com on 11th Mar 2011
Of particular note for me is the Debussy Piano Trio in G, an early work which was suppressed by the composer and only came to light in 1980. The CD includes two other rarities, a charming
collection of Alsatian folk melodies...by Charles-Marie Widor, and a Septet by Camille Saint-Saëns.
This latter is a backward-looking work which had it been composed 50 years later—in 1930 instead of 1880—would have been called neo-classical, or more accurately neo-baroque.
Congratulations to Ensemble Vivant for uncovering these works and presenting them with their usual flare.
Posted by Musical Heritage Society on 11th Mar 2011
Ensemble Vivant, hailed as “Canadas Chamber Music Treasure” specializes in diverse repertoire which includes classical, ragtime, tango and Tin Pan Alley. The group, with piano, violin and cello at its core has embraced new works and arrangements for chamber ensemble since their formation in 1988. Their latest album, Fête Francais, features music of three French composers – Claude Debussy, Charles-Marie Widor and Camille Saint-Saëns. Leader and pianist Catherine Wilson noted about this recording “I have always been fascinated by France, awed by its beauty and excited by its culture, which is an intriguing mix of deep tradition and innovation. I am particularly engaged by works that defy easy categorization, and in this respect the French post-romantic era is rich indeed. Perhaps I am attracted to artists who were tenaciously independent in their vision.” Debussy’s Trio in G, written when Debussy was only 18 years old, certainly meets that definition. The four-movement work is full of romantic references but Debussy’s originality shines through. The work opens with a plaintive melody, while the second movement scherzo has a mysterious quality. The third movement features expressive work by cellist Sharon Prator and violinist Erica Beston. The Finale is a recapitulation of themes heard in the first movement. The playing is incisive, buoyant, and texturally full. Saint-Saëns created his Septet with a nod toward the classical era –with four movements that include a minuet and a gavotte. The work is unusual as it includes the trumpet in its instrumentation. It was created on commission from La Trompette, a wind music society at the Imperial Military Academy of Paris. Widor, more well-known for his “organ symphonies, was also a composer of piano chamber music. Soirs d’Alsace (Evenings in Alsace) is a descriptive work that depicts four very different evenings in Alsace, a region of northern France, where Widor grew up. With their own sound and sensibility, Ensemble Vivant offers a unique album that is vastly entertaining and makes listening a pleasure. This is music making at it most charming and delightful.