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Music Box, 18th July: I Fagiolini Ensemble - The 'Amuse Bouche' Album

Thursday, 18 August 2016 , ora 8.47

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I want to recommend you an album released by Decca Classics on the 1st April 2016, an album which is also included in Radio Romania Music's Campaign: 'Vote the Best Classical Album of 2016'. I am talking about Amuse Bouche, the album recorded by the I Fagiolini Ensemble which contains, as written on the cover of the album: French coral delicacies. I think it is an appropriate album to listen to as the 14th of July, France's National Day closes in, because one can find many aspects which can be associated with France - gastronomy and music, both intertwined in an ingenious way on a record with 20th century rarely performed works signed by famous French composers. The ones who performed for this album are British - I Fagiolini is, despite the name, an ensemble established thirty years ago in Oxford, and Robert Hollingworth, the conductor of the choir, reaches the age of fifty years old in 2016 - therefore, it is a double anniversary. I Fagiolini is an ensemble which specializes in performing old music, and their previous records have received many important distinctions. Therefore, it may be surprising that for an anniversary album they chose a French repertoire - but, the conductor confesses that French is one of the best languages to sing in.

Therefore, on the album is music and gastronomy and the world premiere recording of Jean Françaix's work: L'ode à la Gastronomie.

I preferred to maintain the concept of the album, on which the coral works are intertwined with Erik Satie's Gnossiennes. I also invite you to see the video presentation of the record, which I believe it to be an interesting document since the appearance of Jean Françaix's son and the daughter came as a surprise.

Even from the title of the record, Amuse Bouche - in French it is the name of an appetizer - the gastronomic hint is obvious. And so is I Fagiolini ensemble's vision, who wished to create a true auditory feast: the main course is the work for twelve voices written in 1952 by Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur: Le Cantique des Cantiques, transformed in a dialogue between Christ and the church.

This culinary-inspired album's dessert is an arrangement for choir and piano of the wondrous second part of Maurice Ravel's Piano Concerto in G Major, an original for piano and orchestra. The piano player is Anna Markland, who in 1982 became the winner of the 'BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition', later on she became a member of I Fagiolini Choir during the soprano contest.

This delicacy - the transcription realised by Roderick Williams for the second part of the Piano Concerto in G Major and followed by Erik Satie's Gnossienne No. 6 is performed by the same Anna Markland.

Cristina Comandaºu
Translated by Irina Mihai
MTTLC, University of Bucharest, 2nd year