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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Max d'OLLONE (1875-1959)
Piano Quartet (1949)
String Quartet (1898)
Piano Trio (1920)

Patrice d'Ollone (piano)
Quatuor Athenaeum Enesco
rec Jan 1999, Salle des fêtes de l'Académie de Paris
PIERRE VERANY PV799061 [69.03]

Pierre Verany

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.

Rob Barnett

 


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