French Elegance 2016

French Elegance 2016


“French master pieces for clarinet and piano”

Saint-Saëns / Sonata for clarinet and piano in B flat major, opus 167
Chausson / Andante & Allegro
Widor / Introduction et rondo
Debussy / Première Rapsodie
Debussy / Petite Pièce
Gaubert / Fantaisie
Poulenc / Sonata for clarinet and piano

Etcetera Records KTC 1550
Release date: 19 July 2016

Check out CD booklet

  • Reviews


    This disc is aptly titled. In terms of their playing, Belgians Roeland Hendrikx and Liebrecht Vanbeckevoort tackle standards of the French clarinet repertoire with the utmost elegance. Saint-Saëns’s 1921 Sonata was a real throwback to the 19th century but is a work of considerable charm, suiting the warm tone of Hendrikx’s Yamaha clarinet. The approach to the first movement is far too relaxed for an Allegretto but clean articulation impresses in the perky Allegro animato, and the showpiece finale, with its rippling scales and arpeggios, is a delight.
    Composed barely 40 years later, Francis Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata is a very different beast – pungent, witty and melancholic. Hendrikx performs it decently, with secure top notes, but a greater contrast is required between both moods and dynamics. Michael Collins, who included the Saint-Saëns and Poulenc sonatas in Vol 1 of ‘The Lyrical Clarinet’ for Chandos, instils more character – and differentiation – into the works, and in much finer sound. The St Truiden venue is quite resonant and Hendrikx isn’t always balanced favourably against Vanbeckevoort’s Steinway. This backward placement is also an issue in Debussy’s Première Rhapsodie, which is a little one-dimensional in terms of drama.
    The disc includes a few welcome rarities. Chausson’s Andante and Allegro (included by Collins on a later disc) deserves to be better known, the technical challenges well met. Widor’s Introduction and Rondo is of minimal interest but Philippe Gaubert’s Fantaisie is a real winner (and not to be confused with his Fantaisie for flute). Better known as a flautist, Gaubert also taught clarinet at the Paris Conservatoire. Hendrikx and Vanbeckevoort balance its virtuosity with good taste in a lovely rendition.
    Author:  Mark Pullinger