Ensemble Musique Oblique

Caplet: Conte Fantastique; Septet; Prières

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This CD contains nine remarkable works, performed exquisitely by the Ensemble Musique Oblique and harpist Laurence Cabel. A link between Debussy and Messiaen, Caplet's unique writing can be appreciated in the Conte Fantastique d'aprés Le Masque de la Mort Rouge d' Edgar Allen Poe, for solo harp and string orchestra (1908), with its bold gestures, greatly advanced harmonies, novel harp techniques (harmonics, sweeping glissandi, sharp attacks, knocking on the wood of the frame) and unique string writing (harmonic glissandi, fleeting fragments, sound-gestures). This "impressionism" has fervor and energy. We begin amidst a foreboding atmosphere, are taken into the celestial dance music of the ball in the Prince's tower, then the tolling of the chimes opens onto concluding terror. Les priéres (The Prayers, 1914) are lyrical settings, with harp and string quartet, of the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Apostle's Creed, completed while Caplet was serving at the war front. They are filled with clear and direct writing, and heartfelt emotional expression. The Divertissements pour harpe (1924) are wonderful character pieces, the first "a la française" with interrupted cascading arpeggios, and the second "a l'espagnole" with the harp handled like a flamenco guitar, sometimes played with the fingernails. Deux sonnets (1924), for soprano and harp, sets lines by du Bellay and du Ronsard, the first expressing a yearning for one's homeland, and the second a yearning for a loved one. The unusual and spectacular Septuor á cordes vocales et instrumentales (Septet for vocal cords and strings, 1909) is for three wordless female voices and string quartet. The highly rhapsodic music evolves in an impressionistic flow that is at times on-the-edge-of-your-seat dramatic and at times lanquid and sensuous. The vocalises become more complex and overwhelming in a distant land of equally earthly and heavenly energies.

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