Friday, 11 May 2018

Eugene Goossens: Pastorale and Arlequinade, op.41 for flute, oboe and piano (1924)

Eugene Goossens composed his vivacious Pastorale and Arlequinade, op.41 in 1924 for his brother, the oboist Leon Goossens.  At that time, Leon had recently formed the Philharmonic Trio along with the flautist Albert Fransella and the pianist Francesco Ticciati.

This short two-movement work balances a gentle, timeless ‘Pastorale’ with a vivacious ‘Arlequinade.’ The dictionary definition of ‘Arlequinade’ is twofold: ‘a pantomime comedy featuring the Harlequin or a clown’, and secondly, ‘any comical or fantastical procedure or playfulness.’  It is probably the latter thought that infuses this movement.
In Goossens’s exploration of these ‘moods’ there is no romance between Harlequin and Columbine nor the jealousy of Pantaloon. It is simply a summer’s day in the countryside and a mischievous romp. There is a definite nod to French composers, including Debussy, Ravel and ‘Les Six’.

Michael Cookson (MusicWeb International 7 June 2007) writes that ‘…as the title implies the opening movement evokes a gentle and sunny rustic setting, complete with occasional birdsong effects. The ‘Arlequinade’ is fresh and vivacious with an engaging degree of drama.’ Rob Barnett (MusicWeb International, 4 October 2004) reviewing the Chandos recording, suggests that ‘The Pastorale is warmly allusive with…[the] flute singing and musing in the golden sun. After the baskingly reflective Pastorale, the Arlequinade takes the listener back to the mood of [his] Humoresque from [the Four Sketches,] op. 5. Arnold Bax’s playful side is echoed in these works: as in his Gopak, [the] finale of the Oboe Quintet, [the] Overture to a Picaresque Comedy and Mediterranean…’

Eugene Goossens: Pastorale and Harlequinade, op.41 can be found on two CDs:
Goossens Chamber Music, Chandos 10259 (2004). Other works include Four Sketches, op.5, Three Picture, op.55, Five Impressions on a Holiday, op.7 and Suite, op.6. The music is played by the London Chamber Music Group.British Music for Flute, Oboe and Piano,

Dutton Epoch CDLX 7181 (2007).  Other music includes works by Madeleine Dring, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Edward Maguire, Rhian Samuel, Thea Musgrave and Sir Malcolm Arnold. The soloists are Nancy Ruffer, flute, John Anderson, oboe and Helen Crayford, piano.

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