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Recordings to celebrate the world of the oboe

            Vive la Différence      CC2035
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Vive la différence CD cover
More French music: Très Françaix CD cover More English music An English Renaissance CD cover


Jean-Michel Damase: Trio (1961)
         Molto moderato; Allegretto con spirito;
        Allegro scherzando; Moderato; Andante

Lili Boulanger: D'un Matin de Printemps (1918)
        (première recording in this arrangement)
Jacques Ibert: Deux Interludes (1946)
        Andante espressivo; Allegro vivo

Frederick Delius: Intermezzo from 'Fennimore & Gerda' (1910)
Gordon Jacob: Trio (1958)
         Allegro; Adagio;
        Allegro - poco meno mosso - Tempo I; Allegro molto

Edward Naylor: Trio (1924) (première recording)
Eugene Goossens: Pastoral and Harlequinade (1924)

There are videos of the whole album (including rehearsal footage),
and of the Boulanger (complete).

The 12-page booklet includes a discussion of these works and their British and French contexts.
The total time of the album is 61 minutes.

Anthony Robb studied flute at the Guildhall School of Music with Peter Lloyd and Edward Beckett, and on leaving was appointed principal flute with the BBC Radio Orchestra at the age of 23.
Described by the Times as "a glorious individual player", his career has ranged from playing principal flute in all of London's Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, to solo performances with the Hallé, BBC Concert Orchestra, Sinfonia 21 and the Academy of St Martins in the Fields among others. He has performed concertos by Mozart, Bach, Telemann, Malcolm Arnold, Howard Blake, John Rutter and Vivaldi.
In the commercial world Anthony has been involved in recording soundtracks for many films and television programmes, as well as playing for West End shows.
As a chamber musician Anthony has worked with groups such as London Winds, The St Magnus Trio and the London Symphony Chamber Ensemble.
With Jeremy Polmear he has recorded four CDs of chamber music on the Oboe Classics and Ambache labels, including 'Liberté, Egalité, Sororité' (AMB2606), of which the Gramophone commented "Scènes de la forêt [by Mel Bonis] is really a work for flute and two accompanists rather than a unified trio, and Anthony Robb shines in it, as indeed he also does in Tailleferre’s Concertino."
Jeremy Polmear, described by the Gramophone as "a sympathetic, musicianly artist" is the founder of Oboe Classics, and has played on six of its 35 main titles. With the pianist Diana Ambache he has given recitals at the Wigmore Hall and Purcell Room in London; and in 33 countries on five continents, including programmes of Words and Music in the Gulf with Billie Whitelaw, in Australia with Susannah York and around the UK with Jenny Agutter. They have also given courses for Business Schools, using the Arts as a management training tool.
Jeremy has played with a number of London's chamber and ballet orchestras, including the London Mozart Players and the City of London Sinfonia.
His interest in English and French music is long-standing: he has recorded a CD of Vaughan Williams, Rubbra, Britten, Arnold, Bowen and Dring on the Unicorn-Kanchana label ('Sweet Melancholy', DKPC9121) and Jean Françaix on his own label ('Très Françaix', Oboe Classics CC2020). He has also made the première recording of Jean-Michel Damase's Trio with horn ('Music for oboe, horn and piano', Oboe Classics CC2022).
Of his recording of Claude Arrieu's Trio d'anches ('Liberté, Égalité, Sororité', AMB2606), the Guardian commented that it "could not be any more French if it were shrugging at you over a pastis."
Michael Bell is described by the Gramophone as having a "thoughtful brand of virtuosity". He studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Derryck Wyndham and Sulamita Aronovsky, and received the Chopin Fellowship award from the Polish Government, enabling further study at the State Academy of Music in Warsaw. Subsequent prizes in national and international competitions led to numerous live concert performances and broadcasts on radio and TV throughout Europe, Australia and Africa.
Michael has recorded solo works by Haydn, Grieg, Janacek and Tchaikovsky, and four CDs of British music with clarinettist Victoria Samek including Joseph Horovitz and the complete duo works for clarinet and piano by Richard Rodney Bennett on the Clarinet Classics label. The Italian label Sheva has issued a recording of Granados and de Falla alongside a new cycle of Alhambra-influenced piano pieces by Peter Seabourne; he is also in demand as a Lieder recitalist.
Michael Bell has over 30 Concertos in his repertoire, including performances of the complete cycle of Beethoven Concertos. Of a performance of Maurice Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, The Guardian commented "…his performance was a brilliant technical achievement - but more than that a convincing characterisation."

An introduction to the Programme Notes by Jeremy Polmear:

" la musique française, c’est la clarté, l’élégance, la déclamation simple et naturelle ; la musique française veut, avant tout, faire plaisir " [French music is clarity, elegance and simple and natural declaration; above all, French music wants to please.] Claude Debussy

"I am drawn to English music because it reflects the climate and the vegetation which know no sharp edges... it is a very human music, not given to shattering utterances, to human emotion in the abstract, but to a single person's experience." Yehudi Menuhin

The musical cultures of Britain and France in the mid-twentieth century were very different. France was ever moving away from German Romanticism, first with the Impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, then with the revolution of Erik Satie, Jean Cocteau and Les Six, the presence of Stravinsky, and the teaching of Nadia Boulanger making France (specifically, Paris) the centre of the western classical music world.

Britain, too, was doing well. After a century of hosting foreign artists and enjoying the creativity of others, composers such as Parry and Stanford began a musical renaissance, giving rise to a rich harvest of works from the likes of Elgar, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, Maconchy, Bax and Britten. (All these composers wrote chamber music for the oboe.)

What is noticeable in the collection on this album is how the British composers are influenced by the French, but not the other way around. Given the supremacy of Paris at the time this is not surprising. As well as describing a delightful collection of pieces for flute, oboe and piano, these notes also consider if the generalisations of Debussy and Menuhin can be applied to this music from our two countries.

Media Comment
This is a new CD, yet to be reviewed.

Listener Comment
"This is a wonderful collection of pieces for oboe, flute and piano. Thank you, Jeremy, for introducing us to this repertoire ;-). Congratulations for the recording!" Sarah Roper, Spain

"What a lovely CD! All the pieces are beautifully played. It's good to hear one of Edward Naylor's secular works, as he is well-known for his church music but not so much otherwise." Frances Nex, UK

"Every one of the pieces has something worthwhile to offer (great playing of course - that goes without saying). What about that extraordinary opening by Damase - only to wrong foot the listener by slipping into the most melodious, gay and jokey writing.

"Do I agree with your thesis that there is a difference? Yes and no. I think there is French way of writing and an English way, but sometimes the French write in the English way and the English the French. Coming to it blind I would have picked Damase's last movement and Ibert's first Interlude as English Pastoral, whereas I'd have put the Goossens Harlequinade and all the Jacob Trio as French. However, Naylor is totally in the English style, as is Goossens' Pastoral.

"I've been trying to think of them as two overlapping Venn diagrams but it doesn't work. It's not so much that there's common ground, it's that most composers could write in either style. Which is the point you make about how the French influenced the English. I agree it's harder to point to the English influencing the French. They already had their version of the Pastoral Style. And they were so snobbish about Paris being the centre of the world they weren't open to learning from others!

"So, congratulations on a really lovely disc and a stimulating theme behind it!" Andrew Polmear [relation], UK/France

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