Being an old-fashioned type, I still buy CDs from time to time (I even still own a collection of old vinyl records). Before Christmas, I ordered two CDs as a Christmas gift for myself and now finally have the time to listen to them. Charles Koechlin: Piano Music Vol.1 (“…des jardins enchantés”)and Vol.2 (Les Heures persanes), played by Michael Korstick. Magic gardens indeed.
Being old fashioned is not a bad thing. Koechlin himself was definitely old fashioned. When a new generation of young musicians started composing 12-tone-music and a generation of old professors where replaced at the music conservatories, he stuck to his style, composing music in the now old fashioned impressionist style. People forgot him. He died in 1950.
People called him an epigone, but he wasn’t, his music is highly original. Some pieces clearly show that he closely studied the baroque art of the fugue; especially Bach’s influence can be heard. The result is a unique synthesis of styles. In the accompanying booklet, the pianist notes that these pieces are technically more demanding than the more well-known pieces of Ravel and Debussy. Koechlin continued following this track when everybody else had left, developing it to a late blossom. Having a fondness for the eccentric who undeviatingly follow their own paths, this alone is a reason for me to be interested in this little-known composer, but his music is of of highest quality, absolutely beautiful.