The three pieces which make up Catoire’s Op 2 are far superior to the salon-type which was so prevalent at that time. The first, Chant intime
, is only 28 bars long. Marked ‘Andante espressivo’, it is in E major, and has a fleeting tendency to move towards the supertonic, but notice the subtle manner in which Catoire allows his simple theme to build a tracery of continuously unfolding melody—in its own way, this is evidence of an impressive skill in post-Wagnerian composition. We hear a similar approach in the second piece, Loin du foyer
, thirty bars in length. This also tends towards the supertonic (in this case, F), but the rippling, middle-voiced accompaniment, ebbing and flowing against the two-part writing above and below, in this (as marked) ‘quasi improvisato’ piece is quite compelling. The third morceau, Soirée d’hiver
, is more extended than the others, but is simply constructed with a gentle theme framing a central section. What makes this particularly interesting are two factors—the B minor allusions of the opening theme eventually end in a deep D major, and the central section is both in 5/8 and in the very rare key of C flat major. We should not be surprised to learn that this piece impressed Tchaikovsky.
from notes by Robert Matthew-Walker © 1999