Edgar Moreau – A Family Affair (2020)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:05:09 minutes | 1,1 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Warner Classics
The young French cellist Edgar Moreau, an established Erato artist, is joined by his siblings – the violinists Raphaëlle and David and the pianist Jérémie – for Dvořák’s five Bagatelles op 47 and Korngold’s Suite op 23. As David points out, works for the combination of two violins, cello and piano are unusual: “These are wonderful pieces that are rarely played, so this is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on them.” When it comes to playing as a family, Edgar feels that “There’s something that works almost instinctively,” while Raphaëlle explains that “We don’t need to look at each other, and we breathe together in a certain way. There’s something very strong about it.” Completing the programme are transcriptions of much-loved operatic arias from Dvořák’s Rusalka and Korngold’s Die tote Stadt, performed by Edgar and Jérémie
Musical siblings appear to possess an especial fascination for audiences, and it’s undeniable that the combination of shared DNA and upbringing does often translate into musical partnering of a semi-telepathic closeness that can’t be taught. With this is mind, it was perhaps only a matter of time before France’s star young cellist, Edgar Moreau, brought his younger siblings into the studio for a first collaboration on the label he’s been recording with himself since 2014. So here is “A Family Affair”, with violinists Raphaëlle and David, and pianist Jérémie – an unusual chamber combination of instruments, and thus not the easiest to find strong, original repertoire for; but also therefore an opportunity to stand out with some lesser-recorded fare.
First up are Dvořák’s Op. 47 Bagatelles. Composed for the domestic market in 1878, shortly after his career-launching Op. 46 Slavonic Dances and drawing equally heavily on Czech folk music, these five charm-filled shorts were originally scored not for piano but for the then-popular harmonium (a small pump organ). The Moreaus’ readings are attractively bright-toned, polished and precise, the violins ear-prickingly blended, and with a lovely lilt and singing quality. That said, while these pieces could hardly be described as heavily profound, they do still contain are more nuances and undercurrents to be teased out than are heard here. Consequently, anyone specifically after the Bagatelles should still head for the flowing, finely nuanced readings from Frank Braley and Ensemble Explorations on harmonia mundi; or, for especial dark-toned Czech plangency, Josef Suk and friends on Supraphon; or indeed, for a piano recording (the latter two both employ the harmonium), the Busch Trio and Maria Milstein bring a great combination of delicacy and folk kick to proceedings.
It’s a pleasant surprise, therefore, to find that the most convincing interpretation of the two is actually the decidedly meatier Korngold Suite of 1930. This rarely heard work’s demanding piano left hand part is a result of it having been commissioned by Paul Wittgenstein, the same pianist who commissioned Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand having lost his right arm fighting in the First World War, and here its big, bold opening piano cadenza is compellingly and commandingly brought off, followed by an equally compelling strings entry. Moving forwards, there’s plenty more to admire: warmly luminous string tones, with some especially impeccable blending between the violins; a lovely Viennese grace to the Waltz; a real edge-of-the-seat urgency to the Groteske scherzo, its virtuosities cleanly, sparklingly, excitingly despatched; a long-lined, radiantly singing Lied; and the four always superbly tightly together as a conversing chamber family.
Tucked between the two ensemble works are a pair of aria transcriptions for cello, including a beautifully understated Dvořák Song to the Moon.
Moreau fans certainly shouldn’t hesitate, and by anyone’s standards it’s a strong Korngold Suite. – Charlotte Gardner
01. Edgar Moreau – Dvořák: 5 Bagatelles, Op. 47, B. 79: I. Allegretto scherzando
02. Edgar Moreau – Dvořák: 5 Bagatelles, Op. 47, B. 79: II. Tempo di minuetto. Grazioso
03. Edgar Moreau – Dvořák: 5 Bagatelles, Op. 47, B. 79: III. Allegretto scherzando
04. Edgar Moreau – Dvořák: 5 Bagatelles, Op. 47, B. 79: IV. Canon. Andante con moto
05. Edgar Moreau – Dvořák: 5 Bagatelles, Op. 47, B. 79: V. Poco allegro
06. Edgar Moreau – Dvořák: Rusalka, Op. 114, B. 203, Act 1: Song to the Moon
07. Edgar Moreau – Korngold: Die tote Stadt, Op. 12, Act 1: Marietta’s Lied zur Laute
08. Edgar Moreau – Korngold: Suite, Op. 23: I. Präludium und Fuge. Kräftig und bestimmt. Ruhig ohne zu schleppen,
09. Edgar Moreau – Korngold: Suite, Op. 23: II. Walzer. Nicht schnell. Anmutig
10. Edgar Moreau – Korngold: Suite, Op. 23: III. Groteske. Möglichst rasch
11. Edgar Moreau – Korngold: Suite, Op. 23: IV. Lied. Schlicht und innig
12. Edgar Moreau – Korngold: Suite, Op. 23: V. Rondo – Finale. Schnell, heftig – Allegretto amabile e comodo