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Charles Koechlin: Les Chants de Nectaire Second Series, opus 199: “A l’ombre, par une fraîche matinée de printemps” – “La Claire Forêt” – “Jeux dans la clarière” – “Le Bois Sacré” – “Le Bruissement des feuilles” – “Boire à l’ombre, en été” – “Danse de nymphes, au soleil” – “Jeux de Naïades” – “Fraîcheur des beaux matins de la montagne” – “Le Chevrier” – “Danse de Faunes” – “Mollesque sub arbore somni...” – “La Mer aux bruits innombrables” – “Endymion, berger” – “Le Satyre” – “Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus umbrae” – “Caprice du Faune” – “Sur la mort d’un chat” – “Pureté du matin sur la grève” – “L’Heureux petit Berger” – “Calme du soir” – “Brise fraîche du matin sur la mer” – “O fortunatos nimium...agricolas” – “Soir lumineux” – “Gaîté du printemps dans le forêt” – “Tityre, Tu patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi” – “Danses dans la forêt” – “At secura quies...” – “Formosi pecoris custos, formosior ipse” – “Les Oiseaux sont ivres” – “Silène” – “Pour le cortège de Dionysos”
Nicola Woodward (flute)
Recording: Clifton Cathedral, Bristol, England (January - October 2018) – 60’52
Hoxa Sound HS190205 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Notes in English

Nicola Woodward’s return to Charles Koechlin’s portfolio, Les Chants de Nectaire, the second of three installments, gives her flute more room for organic discovery as she decompresses imageries inside ”Dans la forêt Antique”. And while the opening issue stressed intangible subject lines, Koechlin’s Opus 199 broadens that horizon by also delving into the mythological as well as earthy domains. Once again, Nicola Woodward explicitly paves way into Charles Koechlin and his thirst for nature and other derivatives.

Now that we’ve seated ourselves inside the hardbound cover and planted ourselves within the Ancient Forest, the journey is just as joyous as it is adventurous. Like our ecosystem, Mlle Woodward gives a freshly invigorating discourse of ”A l’ombre par une fraîche matinée de printemps”, the launchpad into springtime. The array of Charles Koechlin’s subjects are distilled with such purity that it’s like petit point needlework threaded on silk gauze.

While the flautist clarifies prisms of positivity inside ”L’Heureux petit Berger”, ”Boire à l’ombre en été”, ”O fortunatos nimium...agricolas”, time-splitting passages depicting mythological figures, such as Fauns, the Satyre, Silène (a cohort of Dionysis), nymphs and the Aeolian shepherd, Endymion, act as firm striations. Strangely enough, Koechlin’s aforementioned compositions, while rarely reaching beyond two minutes, deliver a high saturation point and seem to suspend time.

Nicola Woodward stresses other Koechlin cohesive imageries in striking detail. For instance, an incessant randomization of loose leaves gives a Debussyian flourish during ”Le Bruissement des feuilles” with a dotted line back to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Bumblebee while slug-like heaviness and a somnolent domain prevails upon the “Mollesque sub arbore somni...”. We’re even reminded of Gabriel Pierné’s Cydalise et le chèvre-pied as Mlle Woodward paints Koechlin’s Le Chevrier via the woodwind’s vaunted cousin, the piccolo. On the darker side, however, lumbers the “Sur la mort d’un chat” with its distant notes clinging to sobriety and the inevitability of death that make the passage rather haunting.

Tonal shadings prevail, and in certain tracks, the illusions are electrifying: a limpid ”Soir lumineux”, the debauched excesses of ”Les Oiseaux sont ivres...” or the sage visitation to ”Le Bois Sacré”. One of the most captivating pieces written is that of ”At secura quies...” [“Repose without a care”] with its spooky aloofness, ambiguity, pondering meandering and unassuming arrogant elegance...bewitching!

Charles Koechlin’s music dwells for an instant. What a wonderful way Nicola Woodward manages the delivery with a “vision in the moment” with a memory for a lifetime.

Christie Grimstad




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