What did it mean for Guillaume Du Fay (ca. 1397-1474), chameleon-like expert in every musical genre of his day, to compose four settings of the Mass Ordinary toward the end of his life? Looking back from the vantage point of the next generation, when the polyphonic mass reigned supreme, it might be tempting to interpret these works as a self-conscious summa of Du Fay’s career – an achievement akin to Haydn’s London Symphonies or Beethoven’s late string quartets. On a purely musical level these comparisons are apt. Each mass stakes out unique musical terrain; they are often strikingly experimental; and the entire set is shimmeringly beautiful from beginning to end, revealing a composer at the height of his powers.
Pianist Guillaume de Chassy insists that Silences is inspired by the example of clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre's late-1950s trio recordings. To be sure, like those records, this album is marked by intimacy and introspection, a strong clarinet sound and no drummer. But Silences, recorded at a French abbey, doesn't sound much like Giuffre's records—nor indeed, like much of jazz, at first blush. It's not at first clear just what this piano-clarinet-bass formation is up to. The helpfully titled "Birth of a Trio" provides clues. It shows just how much this music shares with jazz—improvisation, first of all; and empathy, the musicians listening closely to each other, as for example when de Chassy's piano sidles up to Thomas Savy's soaring clarinet.
For years the undisputed Rossini tenor par excellence, Juan Diego Flórez at last makes his debut in the hugely demanding role of Arnold and 'masters his part with seemingly effortless perfection' (Die Presse). Graham Vick's 2013 production gives the opera uncut in its original French version, complete with the often omitted ballet music. The William Tell legend of patriotic and political intrigue in 14th-century Switerland is interpreted by Vick as a timeless class conflict with dramatic and unforgettable images. A 'perfect cast' is conducted with 'verve and intensity' (Opera Today)
Faraway So Close is a trio offering from pianist Guillaume de Chassy, whose previous recording, Piano Solo (Bee Jazz, 2007), was completely engrossing in its trenchant beauty. This album projects the same depth, sincerity and directness of communication as the former one, but in a trio setting. Music is mysterious in the manner in which its affects are felt. The piano, with its mechanical action, adds a further layer to the puzzle, as Jon Balke made clear on Book of Velocities (ECM, 2008). De Chassy's keyboard touch is remarkable for its liquid clarity and supports his seeming endless supply of ideas, both melodic and harmonic.
In 1994, RICERCAR released a boxed set bringing together nearly all the works of Guillaume Lekeu (1870-1894), this prodigious Belgian composer who died prematurely at the age of 24. Admirer of Beethoven and Wagner, disciple of Franck, and protégé of Ysaÿe, Lekeu had, in his last compositions, opened a new way that was neither French nor Germanic. It is to this journey that this new edition invites you, starting with the earliest works, written at 15, to the masterpieces of 1893.