Hommages à Haydn, Roussel et Fauré
The game of musical enciphering, seemingly started by Bach, the letters of whose name could be read as notes, was enthusiastically taken up by Schumann (with ABEGG, ASCH and other inventions) and also played by Gade, Shostakovich and others, but it was Franck's pupil Ecorcheville, in his capacity as Editor of the influential magazine later called the
Some of the 20 composers here paid tribute by adopting features of their subject's style (as in Hahn's pastiche eighteenth-century theme and variations or the central flowing section of Ladmirault's modal dance) or attempting to portray some facet of his personality (Honegger's brusque, forthright piece or Enesco's gentle fluidity): others decided not to step outside their own idiom. As regards ingenuity with the 'tonerows', the prize must surely go to Ravel, who in his tender homage to Haydn anticipated Schoenbergian techniques by using his theme in the O, l, R and Rl forms. This piece is particularly beautifully played by Margaret Fingerhut, who shows a chameleon-like ability instantly to switch moods and tone-colours: clean-cut in Hahn, rhapsodic in Debussy, sparkling in Widor's brilliant little fugue, energetic in the spiky piece by Hoeree (who was to become Roussel's biographer), subtly impressionistic in Tansman brittle in Ibert, gravely reflective in Koechlin, frivolous in Poulenc violent in Schmitt (yet clear within its crowded texture). Of her occasional partners, Kenneth Sillito must be mentioned for his sweet-toned performance of Ravel's affectionate tribute to Faure: Margaret Cable's enunciation is unimpeachable, but Chandos should have printed the text of the finely crafted Delage song. A stimulating and most enjoyable disc.