ERNEST CHAUSSON (1855-1899)
String Quartet in C minor, Op.
VINCENT D'INDY (1851-1931)
String Quartet No. 1 in D, Op.
Hyperion CDA67097 [DDD]
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The immediate link between the two works on this CD is that D'Indy completed
Chausson's Quartet. The quartets share much more, however, and make an ideal
coupling: both have an easy Gallic lyricism and exhibit admirable compositional
fluency. Indeed, this is so perfectly realised in the performance of the
Chausson one could be forgiven for expecting this disc to be one in a thousand.
The Chilingirians are completely at one with Chausson's lyrical, sweet-toned
melancholy and react to one another beautifully in contrapuntal passages.
They bring out the drama of the first movement and the plush lyricism of
the second, marked 'très calme' , is the epitome of good taste. The
cautionary epithet 'pas trop vite' to the 'gaiment' indication of the last
movement is heeded so that nothing is rushed and the fragmentary ending makes
its full effect.
The d'Indy, then, has much to live up to. A pity, then, that the recording
quality is flawed. The Chausson was recorded by two members of Mediatrack,
Holland, the d'Indy by the more familiar Hyperion team of Antony Howell and
Mark Brown. Also, the venue moves from the Gallerie des Franciscains in Saint
Nazaire, France, to the Henry Wood Hall in London. The recording focus is
closer and has less body than the Chausson and there is a tendency towards
shrillness lacking earlier in the disc. So whilst the textural ingenuity
of the first movement, the sunny, smiley opening to the second, the playfulness
of the third and the jolly fourth all impress, the final impression of the
disc remains tarnished.