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  • Writer's pictureSteven Vanhauwaert

Gramophone review!

A big thanks to Guy Rickard's at Gramophone for the nice review of our album 'Chamber Works of Eric Tanguy'!

Usually, contemporary composers’ works are promoted by one or two labels, but the discography of Éric Tanguy (b1968) is remarkably (and encouragingly) diverse. Navona has now joined the list of companies recording his music with a very nicely produced and engaging programme of chamber and instrumental works covering the period 1994 – when he commenced the brief, anger-filled Élégie (commemorating the premature death of a college friend) – to 2019, with the writing of the beautiful, if relatively brief, cantata Le lys et la lyre, commissioned by cellist Cécilia Tsan, the sensitive accompanist for Elissa Johnston, with whom she premiered it last year at Mount Wilson Observatory.
The concentrated Piano Trio (2010-11) is a powerful yet melodically interesting piece, compellingly performed by Ambroise Aubrun, Tsan (who also commissioned it) and Steven Vanhauwaert. They are manifestly attuned to Tanguy’s wavelength, whether here or in their separate solo works: Aubrun in the fierce Élégie, Tsan in the moving, technically challenging Invocation (2009, written for that year’s Rostropovich Cello Competition) and Vanhauwaert in the Quattro Intermezzi (2003) which, taking their cue from Brahms’s late set, make no effort to emulate his style. Vanhauwaert also shines in the invigorating, toccata-like Nouvelle Étude (2015), written especially for him; it would make a terrific encore piece.
By chance, the Trio was released recently in a fine rival version performed by Roseanne Philippens, Edgar Moreau and David Kadouch (Erato, 8/22). I have to say I prefer the richer, more full-bodied sound of Aubrun, Tsan and Vanhauwaert, beside whom their Erato rivals seem rather thin in tone. The present version’s slightly more expansive tempos in places also pay dividends in making the most of the music’s expressive profile. Aubrun and Martin Chalifour also have competition in the bracing Sonata for two violins (2001) from Chouchane Siranossian and Jean-Marc Phillips-Varjabédian (Oehms). The latter almost blow one away in the brief opening span, taking 1'58" compared to Chalifour and Aubrun’s 2'28"; the latter, however, are safer in intonation and ensemble and better recorded. The same follows in the other two movements. Velocity is no substitute for expressivity.

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