Jan 26th 2018

An ethereal touch with Dumont’s Trio Elegiaque

by Michael Johnson

Michael Johnson is a music critic with particular interest in piano. 

Johnson worked as a reporter and editor in New York, Moscow, Paris and London over his journalism career. He covered European technology for Business Week for five years, and served nine years as chief editor of International Management magazine and was chief editor of the French technology weekly 01 Informatique. He also spent four years as Moscow correspondent of The Associated Press. He is the author of five books.

Michael Johnson is based in Bordeaux. Besides English and French he is also fluent in Russian.

You can order Michael Johnson's most recent book, a bilingual book, French and English, with drawings by Johnson:

“Portraitures and caricatures:  Conductors, Pianist, Composers”

 here.

When young French pianist François Dumont appeared at the Salle Gaveau in Paris recently, the critics embraced him without reserve. One wrote that his recital “confirmed his place in the family of the best musicians in France”. Another said his Ravel produced “dreamy colors … (where) brio and poetry converge.” 

Dumont is making his mark. He maintains a busy concert schedule and produces a prodigious stream of CDs. A new disc of his Chopin is due for launch in February. An earlier Chopin recording reveals his mastery of the oeuvre. 

I have just received an advance copy of his two-CD Schubert Complete Works for Piano Trio performed by his Trio Elégiaque??. I can barely take it in. I am still recovering from the impact of Elégiaque?’s recent Beethoven’s Complete Piano Trios. 

The new Schubert deserves a close hearing to appreciate Dumont’s ethereal touch, his rich tone, sensitive articulation, his sweeping arpeggios and his expert coordination with violinist Philippe Aïche and cellist Virginie Constant. The effect of these Schubert trios is transporting, nothing less. 

https://www.qobuz.com/fr-fr/album/schubert-notturno-complete-works-for-piano-trio-trio-elegiaque/3770004972203#item

Was it hubris or chutzpah that prompted the Elégiaque? threesome to come up against similar recordings by Ashkenazy-Zukerman-Harrell and Serkin-Busch-Busch and several others? Whatever their thinking, the time has arrived for this fresh new version, delightful in every way. 

“Playing the Schubert trios is one of the greatest satisfactions a musician can have, “ Dumont told me some months ago in an interview*, shortly after the recording of the trios was completed. “But they are also extremely demanding for the three players … pleasure and pain together.” 

The set (from Academy Productions AP732), denominated for its most interesting piece, “Notturno” D. 897, covers all of Schubert’s piano trio output. The Notturno in E-flat major D. 28 ties it together. 

The Notturno has an uncertain place in Schubert’s life work. Musicologists believe it was discarded after being tried out as the slow movement for his B-flat trio, Op. 99, D. 898, included in this album. But it stands alone easily as a coherent piece, opening with a series of rolling chords and a lovely duet with violin and cello. One Schubert specialist has written that the Notturno “is not as well known as it should be”. Dumont and friends may help fill this lapsus. 

Dumont’s principal teacher, William Grant Naboré, founder of the International PIano Academy on Lake Como, Italy, wrote in program notes that the Notturno was Schubert’s first foray into writing for piano and strings. Schubert’s work in general “is filled with song and dance qualities that his aficianados loved and venerated, Naboré wrote. “This was part of his DNA.” 

The playing in these CDs is exemplary for combining the entire arc of the trios, which span Schubert’s life from the early years at as a law student. Taken together, they display Schubert’s musical development in his ensemble writing.

Schubert wrote only two complete piano trios and two movements for piano trios. The four-movement Trio in B flat op. 99, D. 898, which opens this album, is notable for its charming, adventurous and inventive melodies and its rondo finale.

The Sonatensatz in B flat, D. 28, dates from  1812, when Schubert was only 15. One Schubert scholar supposes that “like many of (his) compositions, he probably got tired of writing it, put it aside to return to some time in the future (but) never did so.”

*The full interview with Dumont can be accessed here:François Dumont interviewed: The music never stops 

Below a portrait of François Dumont ?by the writer, Michael Johnson.


 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Music Reviews

Sep 24th 2018
The rich culture of the proud and ancient Basque people is sadly underexposed outside their homeland, a remote bi-national region where Southwest France meets northern Spain. Their language, Euskara, is a world in a bubble with no relationship to other living languages. Most outside interest in recent decades has sprung from the sometimes-violent Basque independence movement. Basque music, however, does travel well across cultures, and is worth a detour. The French sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque, born in Bayonne, grew up with Basque melodies and lyrics in their ears. Now an established two-piano duo, their new CD (KML Recordings) Amoria” groups14 disparate pieces of Basque music they researched over several years. It is a departure from their usual classical repertoire.
Sep 11th 2018
I know several professional pianists who will admit under pressure that they find their work ultimately unsatisfying. Not because of the crowded marketplace, the dreary practice rooms, the clapped-out pianos or too many exhausting tours. No, they are tired of something more basic — the endless repetition of notes penned by someone else. True artists seek self-expression, artistic adventure. They feel the urge to “own” their work. But written music places strict limits on all but the most marginal departures from notation. Some musicians eventually realize they are mere messengers whose teachers steer them relentlessly back to the page. This may explain why so many pianists and other professional musicians also paint.
Sep 7th 2018
With a large cast, full orchestra, and incredible jazz-inflected music, “Porgy and Bess” stands alone as the one American opera that is recognized around the world. Written by George Gershwin and premiered in 1935 on Broadway, it had to wait until mid-1980s to become a standard of the operatic repertoire. The jazz idiom that Gershwin used was surely one of the reasons that “Porgy and Bess” was adopted slowly by the operatic world. But another roadblock was the story, which told about the love between a crippled beggar, Porgy, and a drug-addicted woman, Bess, who live in an impoverished African-American community in the South.
Sep 5th 2018
Frederic Chopin left detailed markings of tempo, dynamics, phrasing, pedaling, even some fingerings, for his 21 Nocturnes to guide interpreters. Yet no two versions – and there are dozens of them -- are anything like the same. The essence of playing Chopin today is deciding how far to veer, how sharply to swerve, from the master’s ideas today without losing sight of his artistic intentions. The player must ask, “When does Chopin cease to be Chopin?” Now comes the rising French pianist François Dumont with a stunning new version that sets him apart (Aevea Classics). PICTURE: Dumont by Johnson.
Sep 5th 2018
Princeton University in the United States is best known for its big thinkers, top scientists and heavyweight historians but now is embarking on a determined effort to make a splash in the arts. Princeton’s new Lewis Center of the Arts is going about it in the most American manner, with millions of dollars upfront investment and a business plan to attract young talent into its music program. Nothing is left to chance. This fall, a new crop of music students have full access to 48 freshly minted Steinway pianos, a large enough stock to attract global attention among pianophiles.
Jul 19th 2018
San Francisco Opera’s revival of its Ring Cycle got off to a rousing start with a top notch performance of “Das Rheingold” at the War Memorial Opera House on June12. The production featured outstanding performances from top to bottom by an exceptional cast and new video projections that were even better than the ones used back in 2011.......
Mar 26th 2018

Johann Sebastian Bach’s B Minor Mass, performed at Symphony Hall on Friday (March 23) and again on Sunday (March 25), was delivered in impressive Baroque style by the Handel+Haydn Society orchestra and chorus.

Mar 15th 2018

The Brahms Scherzo Op. 4 opens with a delicate and playful theme, then carries us along on waves of emotion swinging from the filigree, to the lyrical, the thunderous, and back to the delicate.

Mar 9th 2018

Perhaps enough time has passed since the death of the famous French pedagogue Nadia Boulanger to step back and question her musical sainthood. After all, she was only human. 

Feb 21st 2018

A new “electronic opera” from Ireland, “Heresy”, broke new ground in contemporary opera a couple of years ago, bringing together Irish vocal talent and the synthesized music of much-decorated composer Roger Doyle.

Feb 4th 2018

Elegant, poised and deeply musical Ran Jia has brought a new freshness to the Franz Schubert piano sonatas, a phenomenal achievement considering how often they have been performed by the greatest pianists of the past 75 years.

Jan 31st 2018

American expat pianist David Lively found happiness in Paris as a teen-aged piano prodigy and got so busy performing and studying  -- with an Alfred  Cortot associate -- that he ended up making his life in France, a “different planet” culturally, he says, compared to that of his native land. 

Jan 26th 2018

When young French pianist François Dumont appeared at the Salle Gaveau in Paris recently, the critics embraced him without reserve. One wrote that his recital “confirmed his place in the family of the best musicians in France”.

Jan 13th 2018

Nearly two hours of Debussy’s solo piano music at one sitting can be, for some, too much impressionistic color to digest. And indeed a woman beside me fell asleep during the twelve Préludes, Book One.

Dec 30th 2017

If I were to help a new listener grapple with Charles Ives’s Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860”, I would share my story of first seeing the score’s opening page.

Nov 29th 2017

Piano practice is like having a dog. If one has lived long enough with such an unnecessary but at the same time critical circumstance, one wonders how others live without it.

Nov 29th 2017

In the world of classical music trios, there are few combinations as natural as the cello, guitar and piano. Operating mostly in the same register, attacking and retreating equally, the instruments can blend beautifully if played with discipline and heart. 

Nov 3rd 2017

A California polymath has electrified the music world with his images of classical music in visual form, capturing more than 165 million hits on his Internet postings in just a few years.  Only pop singers or weird videos do better.