Hahn is better known for his operetta Ciboulette and for his songs
than for the chamber or orchestral music. In fact there is a violin concerto,
a piano concerto as well as a substantial quantity of chamber works.
Once again Auvidis Valois have produced a matchless product - exemplary
performances, recording and documentation in French and English. The photographs
are especially good.
The music is determinedly melodic in character - so no surprise there! The
style leans towards Fauré and Franck rather than towards the perfumed
gardens of Schmitt, Ravel and Debussy.
The quintet which was the most frequently performed chamber work during his
lifetime is torrentially tuneful. It bursts the bounds of joyous celebration
in music of succulent ecstasy in a way closer to Franck and Chausson (as
in the Concert) than to the involved subtlety of late Fauré.
This is true of the two flanking movements of the three movement work. The
central movement is more reflective. You simply have to hear this piece if
you have any affection at all for the chamber works of Fauré or Franck
During the 1910s and 1920s Hahn denied the attractions of the string quartet.
It was only on the brink of (or over the edge of) another War that he recanted
and produced in quick succession two essays in the medium. At his death he
was intending to start a third.
The first quartet is harmonically involved but after an introit it moves
into an almost Viennese theme - dashing and carefree with a Dvorákian
character and a hiccup in the line. Some of the momentum is lost towards
the thoughtful end of the first movement. The low key medieval carol of the
second movement contrasts with the severity and reserved trudging sweetness
of the andantino. A Mozartian lightness of spirit breathes through
the flighty allegro assai - utterly delightful. This is a wonderful
discovery. The second quartet also has four movements imbued with Mozartian
levity and unaffected sentiment, Bachian firefly grace, a devil-may-care
panache, thoughtful awed reflection (in the Posément) and a
Très Vite that has the breezy step and mercurial manner of
Once again thanks are due to L'Association Française pour le Patrimoine
Musical for funding this fine revival. Can we expect more Hahn? How about
now turning to Guy-Ropartz's Symphonies 1, 2, 4 and 5?
Recommended to Gallophiles, to anyone at all interested in the development
of chamber music in France and to any listener intent on broadening their
repertoire of tuneful fibrously substantial chamber music
to anyone who wants to their stock of genuinely emotional and accessible