French Women Composers of the 19th and 20th Century

Are there any French women composers of the 19th/20th century? The Divine Wind Quintet and Stephen Smith, pianist, have done some excellent research and come up with an affirmative answer.

A selection of the works of five of these comparatively unknown women were admirably played last Saturday night at Ryerson United Church by the Divine Wind Quintet and Stephen Smith. It was a pity that there were so few people to appreciate this concert.

The opening work was A Prelude, Variations and Finale by Yvonne Desportes (1907-1933) played by the Quintet . This was in the generally accepted form of the prelude with the statement of the theme, followed by a set of variations, lyrical, or pastoral, and various tempi, with the Finale ending in pleasant serenity.

This was followed by a flute solo, Concertino for Flute and Piano by Cecile Chamiinade (1857 - 1944), a work to show off the virtuosity of the flautist. This was played with charm and control but great energy to a triumphant finish by Laura Barron, accompanied by Stephen Smith.

Acharming clarionet Arabesque by Germaine Tailleferre (1892 - 1983) followed. The influence of the Honegger.,Milhaud and Poulenc could be discerned. This was played by Anne-Katherine Coope, accompanied by Stephen Smith.

The first half af the performance closed with a charming work by Claude Arrieu , the pseudonym of Louise Marie Simon, (b.1903).  In the five movements echoes of many 20th century influences could be heard, particularly in the Adagio movement which had the langourous rhythm of blues lurking in the background. The final Allegro Vivace was very lively and finished the piece on a triumphant note.

The concluding piece of the evening, Sextet in C minor, opus 40, for Piano and Wind Quintet byLouise Ferrenc (1804-1875) was written in 1830. This work was virtually a miniature piano concerto, and the piano was brilliantly played by Stephen Smith. Once again the influence of other composers could be heard, particularly in the last movement, Allegro Vivace, which had the lushness of late 19th century Romantic music.

It is to be hoped that the Divine Winds and Stephen Smith will present more concerts in the future featuring these obscure and little known composers, whose music is so charming.

It is also to be hoped that any future concerts will be attended by a larger audience. These excellent musicians deserve a wider public.--Jane Penistan