No piano No problem, new album to be released in January 2017

Using the bold duo of harp and violin, Manon and Philippe set the tone of today’s repertoire by juxtaposing contemporary and arrangements of classic works together in a striking programme setting.

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The musicians offer something new to the listener, personalise the repertoire and at the same time provide a dusted down version of classical music: the harp changes its usual role, exploring the repertoire to the best of its ability and to match the violin’s fiery character with brilliance and virtuosity. The title of the album pays its respects to this version of the instrument, which replaces the piano in the tangos of Piazzolla and the Suite Populaire of De Falla: the harp adapts naturally to the repertoire alongside the violin. No piano? No problem.

The duo of violin and harp stir the imagination by recreating intimate characters, personal attachment, the heart of the night, the crux of an opera or a lullaby. The variety of pieces chosen allow the duo to play in appropriate registers and the contrasting styles and periods offer a full range of what these instruments are together capable of.

Manon and Philippe are two free-thinking musicians whose paths have crossed multiple times, both during their studies and in early professional life. Before forming the duo, they played together for many years in other projects. Their personalities complement one another and with the encouragement of the composer Florentine Mulsant, their love of music gave birth to this recording. They were very privileged to record this CD in the hall at The Arsenal in Metz.

The Three Fantasies by Florentine Mulsant, dedicated to the performers, make their debut on this recording. They reveal the expressiveness of the two instruments using rhythm, air and brightness in three contrasting movements. The first Fantasy opens the recording, meditative and declamatory before developing into a rhythmical theme. The second Fantasy develops an impressionistic style where rising waves ebb and flow and eventually die away. The last Fantasy concludes the work in bright and playful fashion.

Florentine Mulsant composer

Florentine Mulsant, composer

La Suite Populaire Espagnole by Manuel de Falla, taken from Les Siete Canciones Populares Espanolas (1914-1915), presents tableaus of a proud and generous, traditional Spain. This suite consists of six short characterful pieces based upon folkloric themes: El Paño Moreno (Le Drap Mauresque), Asturiana (Asturienne), Jota, Nana (Berceuse), Canción (Chanson) et Polo.

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Philippe Villafranca

Created in 2000 by Sebastian Currier, Night Time is an ode to the night. A poem in five contrasting movements that are in turn lyrical, disturbing and hypnotic and refer to different nocturnal moments: dusk, insomnia, nightime prayers, the breeze and the brightness of the stars.

The celebrated Meditation from the opera Thaïs is the heart of the action: Athanaël, the monk, realises his carnal desire for the woman he wants to convert – Thaïs, the courtesan, who in turn discovers her faith and desire for chastity. Here the harp and the violin were chosen by Massenet as the perfect musical setting for the star-crossed destinies of these two tragic characters.

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Manon Louis

The Histoire de Tango contains a grand evolution – from the first steps in the bordels and dance halls of early 20th century Buenos Aires to the present day where it’s played in the concert halls of Europe and America.

Bordel 1900 is a popular and seductive tango, inspired by the warmth and humour of the mixed clientèle frequenting these establishments. It’s a tango of the time of Vincent, Astor Piazzolla’s father, who was crazy about this music and passed his love of it down to his son.

villa_manon_12Café 1930, a singing and slower tango, is listened to in cafés: romantic and melancholy, it’s also a childhood tango of Piazzola.

Night-Club 1960 with changing venues, changing rhythms and a changing ambience created a new version of the dance: Piazzolla, who travelled a lot and absorbed many new musical styles, delivered revised versions of many old tangos.

Although Concert d’aujourd’hui is now a 30 year old piece, its modern stance is impeccable. The influence of his contemporaries is present, and the irreverant and passionate personality is reflected in the style.

« I have listened to tango from the age of 8 and recognise that some … great musicians influence my music. I respect them because they found their own style. Without style, it isn’t music.’’ (Astor Piazzolla)

Bauer Studios, Ludwigsburg

Animato Label

Rémi Rière, photographe

Biographie

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Après ses études au Conservatoire de Grenoble, Philippe entre au Conservatoire National Supérieur Musique de Lyon dans la classe de Roland Daugareil où il obtient son premier prix à dix-sept ans. Il se perfectionne ensuite à la Guildhall School of Music de Londres dans la classe de Krzyztov Smietana, puis auprès de Rafael Oleg à la Hochschule für Musik de Bâle.

Durant ses études, il reçoit également les conseils de Tibor Varga, Igor Ozim, Matis Vaystner, Peter Csaba et Marie-Annick Nicolas.

Lauréat de plusieurs concours internationaux (Avignon, Nuremberg, Musique d’Ensembles, Andrea Postacchini à Fermo, Città di Brescia), il reçoit en 2001 le 1er prix de la Fondation Internationale Nadia et Lili Boulanger.

À l’âge de vingt-et-un ans, il obtient le poste de premier violon solo de l’Orchestre National de Lorraine, puis est nommé violon solo de l’Orchestre de Chambre de Genève. Depuis 2015, il est violon solo de l’Orchestre de Chambre du Luxembourg et est régulièrement invité comme violon solo dans de nombreux orchestres comme l’Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg, l’Opéra de Marseille, ou l’Orquesta Sinfonica de Tenerife ou la Chambre Philharmonique.

Second violon du Quatuor Aviv avec lequel il se produit en Europe, USA-Canada, Israël, et Amérique du Sud, Philippe joue aussi régulièrement en compagnie de la harpiste Manon Louis, du flutiste Loic Schneider, ou de la violoniste Amanda Favier. En compagnie de la soprano Polina Pasztircsak, il a enregistré en 2010 les Romances de Chostakovitch pour le label Ysaye Records. Philippe est également membre de l’ensemble Les Dissonances avec David Grimal, et du Kammer Ensemble de Paris.

Philippe Villafranca s’est produit en soliste avec plusieurs orchestres dont l’Orchestre National de Lyon, celui de l’Opéra d’Avignon, l’Orchestre des Pays de Savoie et l’Orchestre de Chambre de Genève. Avec l’Orchestre de Chambre de Luxembourg sous la direction de David Reiland, il a enregistré le Konzertsatz de Beethoven, le concerto de Kurt Weill ainsi que le concerto d’Alexandre Müllenbach composé en 2015 et dont il est le dédicataire.

Philippe Villafranca enseigne au Conservatoire de Neuchâtel, Suisse.