Charles Koechlin

Le Repos de Tityre, for oboe d'amore, Op. 216/10

    Description by Adrian Corleonis

    While it is fair to say that Koechlin enriched the repertoire of such neglected instruments as bassoon or oboe d'amore, his music for those instruments is still far less often performed than that by creative nonentities whose works seldom transcend their pedagogical purposes. Reasons for this neglect are legion. Some of Koechlin's best music was not published until long after his death in 1950, and much remains in manuscript. While Koechlin established himself as a composer several times in the course of his long life, his renown scarcely survived his passing, while the numerous revivals, memorial concerts, and hommages confirm merely that occasional revival is not a resurrection. For the practical performer the sheer abundance of Koechlin's work is daunting -- one hardly knows where to begin -- while the task of sorting through his vast but uneven oeuvre presupposes a degree of discrimination and dedication rare in any profession and a chimera among instrumentalists attempting to make careers on instruments lacking the cachet of the violin, say, or cello. But the greatest bar to Koechlin's rediscovery is that for which he is praised -- or patronized -- his originality. As Wilfrid Mellers observed in 1942, "His work has none of the notoriety value of a Stravinsky or Schönberg: the apathy of the musical public -- his lack of an audience apart from a few friends and colleagues -- springs not from shock, hostility, or even disapproval, but merely from the failure to recognize distinction which is remote from any attempt at self-advertisement." And coming to terms with an idiom whose "distinction" is to have left familiar tropes and gestures far behind requires extraordinary divination. One entry into Koechlin's peculiar sound world might be afforded by his literary referents. But who now reads Virgil in Latin? Le Repos de Tityre, the 10th of the 11 Monodies for Wind Instruments, Op. 216, composed between May 1947 and May 1948, may be played by oboe d'amore, clarinet, or soprano saxophone. Tityrus is the shepherd of Virgil's "Eclogues," a beatific rustic demesne Koechlin evoked often, for instance, in the Flute Sonata, Op. 52 (1911-1913), in which all three movements bear Latin superscripts from the "Eclogues," the last of the Paysages et marines for piano, Op. 63 (1915-1916), titled "Poème virgilien," and throughout the second volume of Chants de Nectaire, Op. 199 (1944), for solo flute. Le Repos de Tityre was given its premiere by Jacques Desloges playing soprano saxophone on June 17, 1982, at a Koechlin Festival in Ville d'Avray.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2016 Bayer Records BR 100379
    2012 Brilliant Classics 9266
    2007 Crystal Records Dist. 659
    2002 Arion 68286
    2000 Audite 97409
    1999 CPO 999614