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“Proust, Le Concert retrouvé”
“A Concert at the Ritz during the Belle Epoque”
Reynaldo Hahn: A Chloris (arr.) – 7 Chansons grises, n°5: “L’Heure exquise” (arr.)
Robert Schumann: Fantasiestücke, opus 12: “Des Abends”
Frédéric Chopin: Prélude, n° 15 in D-Flat major, opus 28, “Raindrop”
Gabriel Fauré: Sonata for Violin and Piano in A major, n° 1, opus 13 – Berceuse, opus 16 – Trois Mélodies, opus 7, n° 1: “Après un rêve” (arr.) – Nocturne in D-Flat, n° 6, opus 63
Françoise Couperin: Ordre 6ème de clavecin, ° 5: “Les Barricades mystérieuses”
Franz Liszt: “Isoldens Liebestod”, S. 447 (after Richard Wagner: Tristan und Isolde, WWV 90)

Théotime Langlois de Swarte (violin), Tanguy de Williencourt (piano)
Recording: Cité de la Musique, Philharmonie de Paris, France (September 2020) – 60’12
harmonia mundi HMM 902508 (Distributed by PIAS) – Booklet in French and English

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust

Such soothing words from 20th century novelist Marcel Proust is how he looked upon music as the magnetic precursor to his spacious In Search of Lost Time (1913-1927). Throughout the seven volumes, Marcel Proust’s characters meticulously matched music he held in fond embrace to evoke the ultimate aesthetic. Back on July 1, 1907 the writer invited a select group of friends to hear a recital featuring an assortment of compositions by masterful composers, both past and present, as a seemingly grand investiture. Visionaries Théotime Langlois de Swarte and Tanguy de Williencourt have now re-created this intimate ensemble with all the beauty and finesse that the Belle Epoque had to offer. Perhaps it’s the richness of the “Davidoff” violin and classical limpidness of the 1891 piano Erard that gives the entire album such a magical sendoff...we melt inside tonal, heavenly bliss. Indeed, we’ve reached, as Reynaldo Hahn titles in the final track, L’Heure exquise!

More than half of the CD is devoted to Gabriel Fauré since the novelist was smitten with his music. So much so, that the Sonata for Piano and Violin is directly linked to Proust’s Volume IV, Sodome et Gomorrhe. Mssrs. de Swarte and de Williencourt briskly play through the score with sizeable, emotional detail. The ensuing fast-clipped Berceuse is one instance where M. de Swarte permeates the airways with the woodsy, organic composure of the Stradivari. These reedy overtones are somberly bathed during the “Après un rêve”, even a bit timid and shy at certain junctures of the score.

During Couperin’s “Les Barricades mystérieuses” Tanguy de Williencourt’s pianistic outreaches simply float like rose petals in the air, while the dreamy pocketed roulades inside Fauré’s Nocturne melt the listener into oblivion. The same lyrical spell is cast upon the Lisztian rendition of Isoldens Liebestod...moving, touching, endearing, and superbly cinematic in its dynamic cadences. Bountiful!

Slightly askew, however, Frédéric Chopin’s Prélude has assertive strength, heavier than usual with raindrops a bit rambunctious during the contrasting middle section. On the flipside, M. de Williencourt’s “Des Abends” reaches far into the stratosphere with its diaphanous Schumannesque flair.

With a backward glance, two of Reynaldo Hahn’s most sentimental pieces, the pensive homage, A Chloris and the bittersweet vestiges of “L’Heure exquise”, give a touching bonjour! and adieu! like front and back covers of a Proust novel...such a marvelous tribute to the Venezuelan’s lover, Marcel Proust.

"Proust, Le Concert retrouvé" is a true re-enactment. Theatrically vibrant and full of ambition and enchantment, Théotime Langlois de Swarte and Tanguy de Williencourt have a genuine classic on their hands, in this fin-de-siècle soirée. A polished recording!

Christie Grimstad




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