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Mel Bonis: Complete Music for Flute & Piano

Mel Bonis: Complete Music for Flute & Piano

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Mélanie Bonis was one of the most interesting and prolific composers in France in the 20 years before the First World War. Married in 1883 to the industrialist Édouard Domange, her duties as a housewife and mother distanced her from Parisian musical life yet did not consign her to silence: following her studies at the Paris Conservatoire she had mélodies and piano pieces issued by various publishers. Obsessed with striking a balance between music and family, she came to notoriety late, becoming the first woman on the board of the Society of Music Composers. Nevertheless, The Great War put an end to any further publication, with Bonis devoting herself to sacred music (for organ or voice) and pedagogical works. She left a large amount of unpublished material to posterity, however, which demonstrates a knowledge of compositional and orchestrational technique unfairly neglected in her lifetime. Christiane Geliot, her great-niece, has dedicated her life to rediscovering Mel Bonis’s works, searching for manuscripts mislaid within her household and inviting celebrated instrumentalists to play and record her music.
Bonis’s talents found expression in many genres, and the piano was undoubtedly her favourite instrument. Nevertheless, in her chamber music scores the flute is often the protagonist, and in the flute repertoire, Bonis’s chamber music output bridges the gap between Romanticism and Impressionism. In her Flute Sonata in C sharp minor Op. 64, throughout four large-scale movements Bonis creates a post-romantic atmosphere full of poetry and light. The piano score, strongly influenced by Franck’s use of the keyboard, requires exceptional virtuosity. The flute writing is very dense as well, and both instruments link and exchange motifs as if they were one. The 3 Mélodies, originally for soprano and piano, are arranged here for flute and piano, creating a passionate, if wordless, dialogue between the two instruments and challenging the flute to find an extensive tonal palette. The Scherzo (Final) Op. 187 belongs to a lost manuscript, probably a Suite for flute and piano. The flute here plays a passionate melody over fast and pressing triplets in the piano part. Pièce Op. 189 is another work rediscovered in recent years. Its beautiful melody is accompanied by slow piano chords, offering the flutist room to express varied sounds and colours. The Air Vaudois Op. 108, reflecting the pastoral, bucolic nature of the Swiss canton, finds joy and leisure at a time when worries and hardships plagued the Bonis family due to the war. Une Flûte soupire Op. 121 combines lyricism and colour contrasts in a more impressionistic style than the preceding works. The album closes with Andante et Allegro Op. 133, her most avant-garde work in terms of harmonic choices and original development. The Andante’s irregular phrases and long lines and are met with the Allegro’s rapid, low piano octave, growing in intensity towards a stormy finale.

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 1
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5028421969275
    • Item Number: BRI96927