Duo Ahlert & Schwab

Le Musée

French guitar music by Claude Engel
Birgit Schwab, guitar

-Valse cacochyme et valétudinaire N° 1-3
-L'oiseau et l'aube
-Chanson marmelade n° 1
-Le musáe des vieilles mécaniques
-Variations sur une chanson populaire lettonne

For our CD "Nowhere left to go" we had already recorded three pieces for mandolin and guitar by Claude Engel. When we first found Claude and got to know his music, we also discovered his fantastic solo music for guitar. Most of these composition had neither been recorded nor even premiered, and we were so enthusiastic about the music that very soon first ideas about a new project arose, which led to this recording. This way, Birgit Schwab can finally present herself as a soloist, and Claude's guitar music is being introduced to a bigger audience.
First, we had to go through a difficult process of choosing, as for reasons of time not all compositions would fit onto one CD. The result is giving a good impression of the many different styles and richness of the music by this French composer.

Valses cacochymes et valétudinaires These three waltzes were written in 2001 and are dedicated to Birgit Schwab. The title is difficult to translate but it suggests that the music is sickly, fragile, rather old and very peculiar. Besides the charm that is so typical of Claude Engel's music, they have an aura of scurrility and hypochondria.

L'oiseau et l'aube (Der Vogel und das Morgengrauen) This 1976 composition and the Variations are the earliest compositions on this recording. In particular, the very freely written first part (L'éveil - Awakening), which seems almost like an improvisation, differs from the other compositions. The second part (L'envol - Taking flight) is a twirly moto perpetuo with impressive syncopated accents and arpeggios.

Chanson marmelade n° 1 This composition was written in 2000 and its subtitle "À la claire fontaine" refers to a chanson of that name. The theme of the song, originally from 17th century France, is introduced after a short opening and then serves as the basis for variations.

Fuego Fuego is subtitled "hommage à Astor Piazzolla". It was written in 1992 after Piazzolla had passed away and is very hard to distinguish from an original Piazzolla piece. Claude Engel and Astor Piazzolla worked together in the past, so Fuego is a goodbye and a deep bow to the great master of Tango Nuevo.

Le musée des vieilles mécaniques et autres bizarreries cinétiques et hétéroclites... This piece, the centre and highlight of this recording, was written in 1999. It is a very extensive work for guitar. In its conception and different sound-picture movements, it is reminiscent of Modest Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" for piano. The "museum" has been recorded in its entirety for this CD.

Variations sur une chanson populaire lettonne These variations of 1976 are subtitled in Latvian "Kur tu tezi galiti man" ("Where are you going, my rooster?"). They are based on the melody of a lullaby which Claude Engel's mother used to sing to him when he was a boy.

"She (Birgit Schwab) convinces with her powerful well accentuated playing, dynamic width and brillant technique."
concertino, 1/2009

Price 18,- EUR


Claude Engel website