Parma Recordings/Navona Records. YVES RAMETTE IN TIMES OF TORMENT

CHAMBER WORKS 1941-1944. Vit Muzik, violin; Carmine Miranda, cello; Karolina Rojahs, piano; Erik van Heyningen, baritone; Igor Kopt, violin; Dominika Muzikova, viola; Petr Nouzovsky, cello; Vanessa Holroyd, flute; Nancy Russo, harp; Jonathan Roberts, piano; Shaw Pong Liu, violin; Emily Dahl, viola; Leo Eguchi, cello.

String Quartet, op. 20; 3 Poems of Francis Carco; Violin Sonata, no. 1, op. 18; Violin Sonata, no. 2, op. 23; Cello Sonata.

Engineers: Ales Dvorak (op. 20); John Weston (remaining tracks). All recording sessions: 2015.

French composer Yves Ramette (www.yvesramette.com) lived during and survived the Nazi occupation of his beloved Paris, where he remained living and composing, including at least one of the works in this album.

His earlier String Quartet, op. 20 is an uninterrupted work, where movements blend seamlessly one into the other. The composition is at its core a post- Romantic one, with occasional touches of dissonance now here now there. It is an inviting entry into the world of this lesser known artist, beautifully played by Vit Muzik, Igor Kopyt, Dominika Muzikova, and Petr Nouzovsky.

The short cycle of three poems by the French fiction writer and poet Francis Carco, consists of the minimalist Madrigal, the sober Amour, and the final Berceuse. Carco’s unpredictable harmonies underpin in the first and third songs a cantabile vocal line, sensitively handled by baritone Erik van Heyningen in flawless French. The second of the songs, Amour juxtaposes a spoken text over the plain accompaniment.

Ramette’s violin sonatas nos. 1, op. 18 and 2, op. 23 are fiercely brought to life by Vit Muzik and Karolina Rojahs. Both works are early post-Romantic ones, abundant with delicacy and Gallic restraint. Karolina Rojahs provides sterling support on the piano.

The engineering by Ales Dvorak (op. 20) and John Weston (remaining tracks) is  just what we have come to expect from Navona Records and Parma Recordings: uncompromisingly accurate throughout and unforgiving of even the smallest glitch.

The album is energetically brought to a close by cellist Carmine Miranda’s impassioned playing of Ramette’s Cello Sonata. Structured in three movements (Slow/Calm/Slow), the work demands the sort of incisive musicality that the young Venezuelan-American cellist unfailingly brings to his playing of this composition.

A heartfelt cri de coeur by a formidable though lesser known composer, this CD is one to treasure.

Rafael de Acha