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Fernand de la Tombelle : Chamber Music

Fernand de la Tombelle : Chamber Music

  • Release 09/07/2012
  • Media Format CD
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Price: €21.56

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Charm and delight His mother was from the Périgord, his father from Laon, but Baron Fernand Fouant de La Tombelle was born in Paris on 3 August 1854, in the rue de Tivoli, close to the Church of the Trinité. His mother, a brilliant pupil of Sigismond Thalberg and Franz Liszt, was his first teacher and the boy grew up in an artistic atmosphere. Having successfully completed literary, scientific and legal studies, he immediately opted for music. Alexandre Guilmant, organist of the Trinité, gave him private piano, organ and harmony lessons. At the age of eighteen, he was already an excellent pianist. Antonia de Peretti Orsini, his great-granddaughter, has described him: "Although giving an appearance of calm and strength, Fernand de La Tombelle concealed an inner heightened sensibility. When he played his music with upraised eyes, at the piano or organ, he was in another world of his own, one devoted to his own inner dream and this would create astonishment by the expression on his face, such was the intensity of his feelings or visions." The painter Adolphe Yvon, doubtless struck by this look, wanted to paint his portrait. La Tombelle was a student of Théodore Dubois' harmony class at the Paris Conservatoire. He received encouragement and advice from Camille Saint-Saëns, which enabled him to achieve brilliant results in different competitions. In October 1873, his father was savagely murdered in his château of Ampouillac by the axe blows of two criminals, who then attempted to destroy all trace of the crime by fire. The experience had a profound effect on the young man. Fernand de La Tombelle helped Guilmant to establish the concerts in the Trocadéro in 1878, where he was the regular piano accompanist. At twenty-eight he was appointed assistant to Théodore Dubois at the Cavaillé-Coll organ at the Madeleine (1885 - 1898). Gabriel Fauré was choirmaster. He also frequently deputized for Guilmant at the Trinité. As he gave organ recitals throughout France, he was unable to take up a regular appointment. On 12 July 1880 in Paris he married Henriette Delacloux de Marivault, well known in literary circles, who would later publish under the name of Camille Bruno. Her literary salon welcomed a large number of artists, including Massenet who set several of her poems: La Rivière (1900), Tes cheveux (1905) and Tout passé! (1909). Some forty songs appeared, followed by sonatas, trios and fantasias. He was awarded the Gold Medal of the Pleyel Prize on two occasions (1888 and 1898). The French Institute awarded him the Chartier Prize in 1896 for his chamber music. Concert and competition organisers drew on his celebrity to preside over ceremonies or conduct orchestras. On 9 December 1889 his Fantaisie de Concert, written specially for the occasion and dedicated to the organist Clarence Eddy, was performed at the inauguration of the Chicago Auditorium. As a result of the stimulus created by the Fortoul Decree (1852), he collected, transcribed and harmonised Les Chants du Périgord et du Limousin, which appeared in 1889. The same year he founded with Jean-Baptiste Carvès the Sarlat Symphonic Circle, with the aim of encouraging music in the provinces, a form of decentralisation that looked forward to the future activities of the Schola Cantorum. In 1890 he made a setting of Etienne de la Boétie's famous sonnet: Hélas! Combien de jours, Hélas! Combien de nuits, which was sung during the unveiling of a statue to the Sarlat child. His activities in the provinces in no way affected his international reputation, his music being regularly performed in Algeria, Belgium, Spain and Canada. In 1894 Fernand de La Tombelle, Vincent d'Indy, Charles Bordes, Alexandre Guilmant and Prince Edmond de Polignac, founded the Schola Cantorum, where he taught harmony from 1896 to 1904. His pupils included Déodat de Séverac, René de Castéra, Blanche Selva, Marc de Ranse and Auguste Leguenant. On occasions La Tombelle would replace Guilmant in his organ class. He collaborated on the Répertoire moderne de musique religieuse and wrote articles for the St-Gervais Tribune. His wide-ranging body of work amounts to six hundred pieces. The religious music occupies a large section: oratorios (Crux, Les sept Paroles du Christ, L'Abbaye), sacred choruses, canticles, collections of works for organ or harmonium. His Ave verum, like his motets and masses, was part of the repertoire of all choir schools up to Vatican II. He wrote music for the stage (Le Rêve au pays bleu, Yannick, La Magdaléenne, L'Apothéose de la Cité, La Muse fleurie, La Roche aux Fées), two ballets, orchestral suites (Impressions matinales, Livre d'images, Tableaux musicaux, Suite féodale...), symphonic poems, cantatas (Sainte-Cécile, Sainte-Anne, Jérusalem, Jeanne d'Arc...), numerous choruses for male quartet (La Légende de la glèbe), as well as chamber music (quartets, trios, sonatas for violin and piano...). The sonata for cello and piano in D minor of 1900 was dedicated to Gaston Courras, of the Opéra orchestra, who gave it's first performance with the composer on 23 February 1902 in the Concerts pour Tous series, organised by the Monde Musical in the Salle des Agriculteurs. An outpouring of original ideas is concentrated at the beginning of the opening Allegro. The anapaestic opening, overflowing with energy, appears in different forms throughout the whole work. The coda takes up the opening theme. The second movement Lentement, makes use of long caressing phrases sung by the cello and supported by delicate arpeggios on the piano. The Allegro vivace's theme is related to that of the first movement, but in a more concerto style. Frequent changes of tempo enliven the texture, contrasted moods follow one another and the piece ends in an imposing coda. Very classical in concept, enlivened with a sparkling melodiousness and daring harmonies, the work was published in 1905 at the same as Saint-Saëns' sonata for cello. The seductive Andante espressivo in E flat major is dedicated to Maxime Thomas, the founder of the Tours Weekly Concerts. Sonata Op 40 for violin and piano in D major, dedicated to Paul Viardot, was performed on 3 April 1898 by the composer and Isidore Mendels, as part of the Paris Société Académique des enfants d'Apollon. In the Allegro agitato in ¾, the instrumentalists pass to and fro the opening theme, before a second calm and expressive lyrical theme, establishes itself in a related key. An explosive coda in D major makes a brilliant conclusion. The Andante in ternary form draws out a barcarolle rhythm, over which the violin makes a flexible lamentation. Frequent modulations punctuate the subtle dialogue of the instruments in the central movement which grows by stages in intensity. The first theme of the Allegro molto is rhythmically challenged by the violin's syncopation. The second theme has the attractive features of a march. The composer maintains tension by making use of imitations in it's development A virtuoso coda brings this piece to an end. In the line of Franck and Saint-Saëns, Fernand de La Tombelle presents us music that is imbued with a romantic spirit, one that is always accessible and dynamic. The little lullaby Ferme tes yeux bleus (undated) was composed for his daughter Denise. This Andantino presents a melody on the muted violin while the piano let's fall descending octaves, rocking on an ostinato of fifths. The melodic line then passes to the piano supported dolcissimo by the violin. Another Berceuse (1890) is dedicated to Fernand Lespine. Opening on the piano with six bars of tonal ambiguity, the Adagio then establishes itself in A major. Attracted by modernity, Fernand de La Tombelle had registered an automobile headlight of his own invention under the name of Efelté, which had been exhibited in the Universal Exhibition of 1878. A contemporary of the early beginnings of cinema, he was interested in new projectors and conceived the idea of magic lantern shows in colour, at a time when people were still amazed at Chinese shadow animation. Taken from an illuminated fairy play Le circuit des étoiles (1906), to text by the composer himself, with lighting effects and projections, Dans les Nuages suggests by tremolos a darkly cloudy sky lit up by stars. The violin repeats three times a phrase which increases in intensity. A cadence of Strauss on the piano precedes the final return of the theme in E major and the declamation of the text: "Then it's you! Madame Moon". This piece very likely figured in L'hippogriffe enchanté, a fantasy story in two acts, illustrated by fifty-five illuminated pictures by the painter Horace de Callias, which was performed at the Salle des Mathurins in 1898. The Andante of Clair de Lune is a delicate reverie in E major. Taken from the stage music of the Mariage Fantastique, to words by Ernest Depré, this fantasy was like the former piece, written for Rafael Diaz-Albertini "the young violinist who at this moment is the glory of the French school." It was given it's première on 1 December 1889 at the Sarlat Cercle Symphonique by M. Puy-Gautier. Fernand de La Tombelle's refined inspiration conceals a science derived from writing. In composition he wanted "to affirm my absolute respect for the purity of the writing and my enduring concern for form. That's my trade: if I have ideas, I would depart from my role, talking about them. Once escaped, they belong to the public, which makes it's judgement." His style is characterised by Antonia Orsini as "alternately passionate romanticism or rigorous classicism; it's inspired music, even mystical, sometimes gay, often melancholy, but always elegant." An informed folklorist, a refined poet (La Source chaude - 1924), a writer whose Pâtés de Périgueux (1909) bears evidence to his sense of humour, a painter, a competent sculptor and an astronomer capable of writing on the revolutions of the stars, which earned him the congratulations of the Academy of Sciences, Fernand de La Tombelle also displayed gifts for artistic photography and was a sportsman involved in the development of the bicycle to the extent of not being afraid of a spin between Paris and the Périgord! After a highly busy life and career, he retired to his château of Fayrac where he spent his final days, surrounded by familiar objects and close to the Nature he cherished. This gentleman and humanist died on 13 August 1928. His son, Henry, a writer and poet, compared him to a nineteenth century Leonardo da Vinci, on account of his universality of spirit. Damien Top.


Title: Fernand de la Tombelle : Chamber Music
Release Date: 09/07/2012
Label: CD Baby
Media Format: CD
UPC: 5425003921025
Item #: 796357X
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