D'Ollone's Piano Trio (not string trio as claimed
by the booklet and cover) - a substantial edifice at 25 minutes long
and in four movements - can be loosely grouped with the Fauré
piano quartets, especially the Second. This is highly romantic music
eloquent in rocking dialogue but avoiding the sort of cliff-edge melodrama
you find in the Vierne Piano Quintet. His writing can be light and flighty
as in the scherzo but in the finale his wild rumpus of a presto insolently
heaves and ruffles the landscape.
The Piano Quartet is shorter by about five minutes
and also is more given to climactic statement than the Trio. It is written
in a style very much out of his own time but then d'Ollone was a man
who said he was able to commune with long dead composers and whose gentle
manners, reclusive self-absorption and kindly ways made him a byword
among his contemporaries and pupils. Like all three works on this CD
this one is in four movements the second of which finds repose for that
rocking lissom dialogue. The scherzo is as unruly as the finale of the
Trio and the quartets own finale sparkles as much as it sings.
D'Ollone is not a widely renowned figure. A Besançonien
by birth he studied with Massenet and won the Prix de Rome in 1897.
He was active as a music director at Angers. His operas include Le
Retour (1919), Les Uns et Les Autres (1922), L'Arlequin
(1924), Georges Dandin (1930) and La Samaritaine (1937).
There is also a fantasy for piano and orchestra called Le Menetrier
and a ballet, Le temps abandonné. The few chamber
works he wrote appear symmetrically - one at the start of his career;
one in his middle period and the Piano Quartet at the end of his career.
The early String Quartet bespeaks his maître,
Massenet, crossed with 'fleuves' from Mendelssohn and Saint-Saëns.
It has a very fine adagio in which d'Ollone seems to retard the passing
of time itself.
Such a pity that neither Arion nor Pierre Verany (both
in the same stable) print the total playing times of their discs on
the package. Also I rather wish I could have seen the whole of Trophyme
Verany's 'Tempête' which graces the cover but which is obliterated
by a panel for the composer's name and the featured works.