Friday, August 02, 2013

CCC 081 - Frédéric Devreese

This week's Consonant Classical Challenge features Belgian composer and conductor Frédéric Devreese. Devreese is the son of composer/conductor Godfried Devreese. His extensive experience as a conductor gives Frédéric Devreese an intimate understanding of the capabilities of instruments and performers. And that knowledge, I think, influences Debreese's compositional style.

His music has a straight-forward quality to it, and seems to flow naturally from the instruments he's written for. His harmonies, while somewhat complex, still use triads as building blocks, giving his music a tonal -- but never trivial -- sound.

His Divertimenti for String Orchestra provides a good introduction to his style. A divertimento by nature is a light work, and Devreese gives the listener a memorable melody cast in a harmonic setting that has just a little bit of a bite to it.

Devreese has written four piano concertos, as wellas a concerto for cello, and one for violin. His Fourth Piano Concerto shows his command of large-scale forms. Notice how the piano, while playing challenging music, never seems to be showing off. Devreese keeps the focus on the motifs, and how they develop, rather than indulging in flashy pyrotechnics.

Prelude No. 2 for piano distills Devreese's style down to its essence. Devreese's gift for melody is obvious, and the cross-rhythms between the hands adds texture without detracting from the inherent simplicity of the work.

Frédéric Devreese has a substantial body of work that is of the same quality as the examples above. He's an experienced conductor with a solid catalog of recordings. And his music has appeal, I believe, to both traditional and more adventuresome audiences. I'd personally like to see Maestro Devreese in concert, conducting his symphony. Now that would be an event!

Recommended Recordings

Frank Bridge / Frederic Devreese / William Walton: Chamber music for piano and strings

Frederic Devreese: Gemini (Orchestral & Piano Works)

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