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Hyperion Records

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Afternoon in the Park by Hippolyte Petitjean (1854-1929)
Phillips Fine Art / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67431/2
Recording details: July 2004
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Release date: May 2005
Total duration: 10 minutes 51 seconds

'…this is a set of sheer delight: let's hear it for imaginative conservatism' (Gramophone)

'These are full-blooded performances, packed with energy and colour, and every corner is turned under complete control' (BBC Music Magazine)

'It is repertoire that really shows up the ensemble's strengths and its ability to encompass the richest ensemble-playing, as well as the exposed solo work required of the accompanied sonata medium … there is plenty of mellifluously drawn melodic writing, playful harmonic twists and textural ingenuity to enjoy' (The Daily Telegraph)

'It is a charming collection, beautifully played; this is precisely the repertoire in which the Nash excels … The opening cantilena of the Oboe Sonata is positively rapturous … just as the mysterious fugal introduction to the finale of the early Piano Quintet [is] fabulously played by cellist Paul Watkins and violist Lawrence Power' (The Guardian)

'[The] Sonatas are all played with an ideal combination of infectious virtuosity and phrasal sensitivity to have these all-too-rarely heard works come dancing off the page. Sensational flautist Philippa Davies is on hand to add her own special brand of artistry … and producer Andrew Keener and engineer Simon Eadon typically capture the proceedings with their usual magical blend of warmth and clarity, making this an issue to cherish. The Nash Ensemble could hardly wish for a finer musical testimonial in this their fortieth birthday year' (International Record Review)

'a splendid two-disc set … mounted with that special sparkle they always bring to French repertoire' (The Times)

'A legend in his own lifetime, Saint-Saëns tantalises us with distinctive, lively and imaginative pieces, explored and played with terrific vivacity and style' (Classic FM Magazine)

'The Nash Ensemble, a British organisation that alters its makeup as the situation requires, has a long and distinguished history on record. This latest offering continues the tradition. Warmly recommended' (Fanfare, USA)

Caprice sur des airs danois et russes, Op 79
composer

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The Caprice sur des airs danois et russes Op 79 was specially composed for Paul Taffanel (flute), Georges Gillet (oboe), and Charles Turban (clarinet) who joined Saint-Saëns for a series of seven concerts organized by the Russian Red Cross in St Petersburg during Easter Week of April 1887. He dedicated the work to the Tsarina, Maria Feodorovna, who had been born Princess Sophie Fredericka Dagmar, daughter of the King of Denmark, and hence the reason why Danish and Russian themes, supplied to him by musicologist Julien Tiersot, were incorporated. The interesting effects produced by the arrangement of the instruments greatly pleased the court, and although the piece had not been published at its premiere, Saint-Saëns made few modifications for the final version. The great success prompted the same group to repeat their performance in London two months later. The Caprice exploits the wonderful hues and nuances of the woodwind palette: both the expressive and the mournful are interspersed with sparkling passages for the piano. The lower register of the clarinet and bassoon are often used with great effect in the articulation of the authentic Russian and Danish melodies. The tempo varies from lively, energetic sections to slow, expressive, improvisational themes in duple and triple meters, played in solo and ensemble combinations.

from notes by Sabina Teller Ratner © 2005

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