PHILIPPE HERSANT (b.1948): Héliades for Flute and String Trio, Desert Song and 5 Miniatures for Alto Flute, Désert for Alto Flute and Vocal Ensemble, 3 Nocturnes for Flute, Viola and Harp.

Catalogue Number: 11W055

Label: Stradivarius

Reference: STR 37153

Format: CD

Price: $16.98

Description: Hersant's music is accessible and appealing, tonal but frequently inflected by references to other cultures, which often lend them an exotic feel. Héliades was commissioned by the Helios Trio, whose name suggested these three evocative laments evoking the inconsolable daughters of the sun god after the death of their brother Phaeton. The first is an elegy that circles obsessively around one note, the second a furious protest, and the third a beautiful, muted funeral procession. Désert is one part of a loose trilogy of choral works each with a different solo instrument, setting three poets' reflections on death. This one sets a grindingly harrowing poem by Nietzsche in gorgeous rich tonal harmony, while the flute embellishes the texture in roulades of notes, employing a wide range of extended techniques. Desert Song is this flute 'toccata' extracted and adapted as a virtuosic concert piece. The aphoristic miniatures explore both colorful playing techniques and those derived from music from Burundi and Japanese and Berber music, this last a scampering perpetuum mobile played without pausing for breath, using circular breathing. The Trois nocturnes inevitably recall Debussy’s Sonata for the same instrumental group, and their rich, free-floating harmony, wandering melodic lines, and the melancholy air of the outer movements have something in common with that work. The central movement is a tribute to the Liszt 'sans tonalité' of some of the late works, several of which are briefly quoted. Jean-Luc Menet (flutes), Ensemble Vocale Aedes, Ensemble Alternance.

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