A short high-speed train trip to Nantes, pleasant blue skies to walk around the Château and Cathedral, and it was time for the 1st concert. Once inside the Cité des Congrès, passing through the Great Hall at lunch time, I spotted the Sirba Octet giving a free concert.
Violinist Régis Pasquier and pianist Jean-Claude Pennetier, long time musical partners, had chosen a Mozart program centered on compositions from his second Paris stay in 1778.
The musicians started with Sonata K 304, Mozart’s only work using the E minor key, a choice reflecting his mood, as his beloved mother, Anna Maria, who was travelling with him, got sick and died. This personal drama, as well as Mozart’s failure to get a job to escape from Salzburg, are also reflected in his most remarkable Piano Sonata No. 8 K 310 in A minor, which Pennetier had included in a solo fellow-concert in Nantes. K 304 is in 2 movements: a tragic and tense Allegro followed by a Minuetto, the music including tense moments but also more gentle or melancholic passages. A big thank you to the 2 musicians for selecting this haunting Sonata.
Jean-Claude Pennetier gave a splendid performance of the lighter 12 Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je Maman”, with its contrasting sections.
Pennetier was again joined by Régis Pasquier for Mozart’s Sonata K. 308, with a classical form in 3 movements: 2 fast movements (energetic Allegro con spirito and Allegretto), with a central slow movement Andante cantabile.
After a visit to the Musée d’arts de Nantes – many great works, including the masterpieces by Georges de La Tour -, and a drinks party with a friend who now lives in Nantes, it was time for the 2nd concert I had booked, with the Ensemble Vocal de Lausanne.
Unfortunately, Michel Corboz, the EVL founder and wonderful conductor was ill and was replaced by Daniel Reuss, the Artistic Director of the EVL once Corboz stepped down. The Ensemble was accompanied on piano by Pierre-Fabien Roubaty (excellent from start to finish), who is also the EVL Artistic Associate Director.
The concert started with Gounod’s Ave Verum, a beautiful short piece for choir alone, a good introduction to Gabriel Fauré’s 2 Offertoires op. 65 (Ave Verum, Tantum Ergo) for piano and women’s choir. Next was Fauré’s famous Cantique de Jean Racine, in its piano accompaniment form. Surely one of the evening highlights: thumbs up to Pierre-Fabien Roubaty and the EVL!
The program included 4 pieces by César Franck: the beautiful Ave Maria FWV 62, the impressive Dextera Domini FWV 65, the quieter Domine, non secundum FWV 66, and Panis Angelicus FWV 61 with soprano Lucie Chartin.
The concert ended with Charles Gounod’s motet Gallia in 4 parts. I liked the Introduction et choeur (which opens the work) best.
It was time then for a light dinner and a good night sleep.