Raphael Fumet (1898 - 1979)
Music for Flute
Trio for flutes
Quatuor for flutes
Son of the composer Dynam-Victor Fumet (1867-1949), brother of thewriter Stanislas Fumet and father of the flautist Gabriel Fumet, Raphael Fumet showedhis exceptional gifts as a pianist and improviser at a very early age. Parallelto his studies with Vincent d'Indy at the Schola Cantorum, he worked at anumber of Paris cinemas, where he wasable to improvise directly on the organ to accompany the silent films of theperiod. His charisma as a musician won him the friendship of many artists,mainly in Montparnasse. He was associated inparticular with painters and sculptors still unknown, such as Soutine, JeanneHebuterre, Modigliani, Juan Gris, Joseph Bernard and others.
By nature very independent and with little interest in the bitterdivisions occasioned by the aesthetic quarrels of his day, Raphael Fumetwithdrew first to the country, to the famous College de Juilly inseine-et-Marne, where he stayed for ten years as director of music. After thedisaster of 1940, he left Juilly with his family and settled at Angers, where he taught pianoand harmony at the Conservatoire and served as organist at the Church of St Joseph, continuing there thetradition of his father in almost total isolation.
Persuaded that his compositions had little chance of being understood byofficial institutions, Fumet made practically no attempt to promote his music. "Ino longer believe in the success of serious music\, he wrote to a friend, "modernman wants to enjoy in music something completely alien to harmony, in theuniversal sense of the word: he wants the sensual or the "scientific"but never love that is like the trees and flowers, which seem to him out offashion and of no interest."
If the time in which we live seems to be one of total freedom ofartistic expression, some will probably be surprised that music of a quality asimpressive as that of Raphael Fumet has up to now always been systematically excludedby various reading committees or other channels giving access to widerdiffusion. It is true that his work is difficult to classify in what is now generallycalled the historical evolution of contemporary music, a fact that seems toallow him greater strength and originality.
Although condemned to write music in silence until his death in Angersin 1979, without ever hearing an echo of what he composed or ever having anythingpublished, Fumet has left us, in spite of inevitable discouragement, a certainnumber of works that are significant in their diversity and which bear witnessto the anti-conformist freedom of their composer in his search, against allodds, for musical beauty. These include several symphonic works, particularlythe great Symphonie de l'ame (Symphony of the Soul), twice performed bythe Philharmonic Orchestra of the Pays de Loire, organ and piano pieces, astring quartet, first performed by the Via Nova Quartet and then by theBudapest Quartet, a wind quintet, broadcast by members of the French OrchestreNational, and various chamber works.
Ten years after his death and thanks to the support of the FondationParibas, a compact disc by Jean-Paul Imbert was dedicated to the organ works ofRaphael Fumet, coupled with those of his father. Paradoxically, above all ifone accepts the pessimistic views of the composer on the understanding of his musicby official institutions, this recording won considerable international criticalsuccess, both in Europe and in the United States.
Apart from the Cantate biblique, written for a film, RaphaelFumet's flute compositions were written at the request of his son, the flautistGabriel Fumet. The Cantate biblique, for four flutes and cello, waswritten for a film showing pictures of Israel under the title Entre ciel et terre
(Between Heaven and Earth). In this musical fresco, an evocation of the holyplaces, the composer's inspiration was drawn from what he himself called"interior horizons", which doubtless explains his more traditionalmusical language, although clothed in a perfectly original form, as much in thevery unusual instrumentation as in the unexpected choice of means of expressionthat recall the form of the cantata. The great success of this music, originallyintended as an interior commentary on biblical scenes, encouraged the composerto make of it a separate work in itself.
The Trio for flutes was written in 1935 for Fumet's chamber-musicclass at the Angers Conservatoire. The work demonstrates exceptional richnessof texture with the means employed.
In 1958 the Baroque renaissance began to take off, thanks to recordings.
Fumet was aware of this and in his Diptyque baroque shows an interest inthe blending of two timbres rarely heard together, that of the flute and of theviola, making use of the spirit of the Baroque, while keeping a surprisingoriginality in a style already so familiar.
At the limit of total consciousness, Interpolaire, with itsunusual title, attempts to resolve difficult relationships of tonality and acompletely free melodic range. Here tonal attraction remains, even if themelody tries to escape to reach again its own sphere, a feature that explainsthe title Interpolaire, between the poles of attraction of tonality .
Fumet's Quatuor pour flutes (Quartet for flutes) was written atthe same period as the Cantate biblique. It reflects a new poetry, fullof freshness and invention, in a musical language more contemporary in itsclashes of stress, although always part of natural life.
Lacrymosa was originally written for viola and piano, with the present versionfor flute and piano, by Fumet, slightly different. A faultless melody, simpleand serious, is set against extraordinary harmonies that, in spite of their apparentsimplicity, bear witness to the composer's powers of aural perception.
The Ode concertante, for flute and string orchestra, ischaracterized by the astonishing dimension of the role allotted for the firsttime to the flute. At a time when this instrument was enjoying particularsuccess, it was important to write a work that was completely different inwhich it could rival the violin or the voice, as much by the depth of themusical content entrusted to it as by the range, which explores allpossibilities. The composer himself wrote as follows:
"The Ode concertante came about, in the first place, as theresult of long reflection on the difficult relationship between the techniquesof strict harmony and a melody freed from tonal restri