The music of a forgotten Boulanger pupil is resurrected, to striking effect

The Strad Issue: June 2024

Description: The music of a forgotten Boulanger pupil is resurrected, to striking effect

Musicians: Cecilia Zilliacus (violin) Kati Raitinen (cello) Bengt Forsberg, Peter Johansson (pianos)

Works: De Manziarly: Piano Trio; Nocturne; Dialogue; Violin Sonata; Trilogue

Catalogue number: BIS BIS-2689 (SACD)

The French composer Marcelle de Manziarly (1899–1989), one-time pupil of Nadia Boulanger, was fêted in her day but then fell into obscurity. Of the five works on this CD, only one, the Piano Trio, has been published. It dates from 1921 and inhabits the French sound world of its time. In the first of its four movements violinist Cecilia Zilliacus and cellist Kati Raitinen sensuously weave their separate ways, and in the short second-movement ‘Rapide’ they are vigorous and rhythmically vital. Their playing of the slow-moving lines of the third movement is pliant, imbued with mystery and full of subtle colours, and the finale has fine lyrical sensitivity before its vigorous ending.

The other major work here is the Violin Sonata of 1918. Zilliacus brings subtlety and limpid beauty to its long melodies and shows similar sensitivity in the quietly contemplative second movement, ‘Lent et Grave’. The third is marked ‘Tumultueux’, an effect found mostly in the piano part, splendidly played by Bengt Forsberg, who is superb in every piece he plays, although often rather in the background.

The other works here are later: while the Nocturne for violin and piano (1977) is in Manziarly’s earlier style, Dialogue (1970) for cello and piano and Trilogue (1977) for piano trio are dissonant and fragmented. They are all played with passion and authority.

TIM HOMFRAY