Devreese Orchestral Works
Family resemblances abound in the work of father and son Godfried and Frederic Devreese, although it is the younger composer who exhibits the greater talent—at least on this showing. Godfried (1893-1972) was born in Courtal, Belgium, won first prize in Cesar Thomson's violin class and studied composition and orchestration with Paul Gilson. Both he and his father-in-law played in Mengelberg's Concertgebouw Orchestra, while Godfried then went on to become Principal of the Malines Conservatory in Belgium (in succession to August De Boeck). He was a musical conservative whose style oscillates between fully-blown late romanticism (Schmidt, Bax, d'Indy and others) and advanced impressionism (later Debussy and the Stravinsky of The Firebird and Petrushka). Tombelene deals with cult happenings on the island of the same name, where Druids, a warrior chief and a young priestess prompt a whole range of colouristic effects which, although not without interest, slip from the memory with alarming ease.
We are told that Devreese was a good string player, and his First Violin Concerto certainly has its moments, including a tender Andante moderato and a rumbustious finale. However, the best music on the disc is the concise Cello Concerto, originally scored for ''fifteen wind instruments, celesta, harp, six five-string double-basses and variously tuned side-drums'', but skilfully reorchestrated by Frederic (b. 1929) for flutes, piccolo, oboe, two clarinets, two French horns, harp and strings. It's here that one notices the younger composer's more engaging tonal palette, a virtue that lends itself to film music, which is Frederic's main claim to fame (although he has also produced ''operas, orchestral works, ballets, music for plays and television dramas [and] chamber music'').
The present selection features four scores that were composed for various films by Belgium's foremost director, Andre Delvaux, and range in style from the gently nostalgic ''Reve'' that opens Benvenuta, through the boisterous ''Danse de l'auberge'' (
As to placing this music in the scheme of things, I would say that Godfried was a gifted 'second-rater' and Frederic rather more than that, at least in the context of film music. It's fairly palatable stuff that will appeal largely to collectors interested in unusual musical byways, with the film music having the wider potential appeal.'