French classical music is so much greater in range
than Debussy and Ravel. Delightfully, more and more of it is now accessible
to even the moderately persistent collector. Names such as Fumet, Schmitt,
Max d'Ollonne, Canteloube, Bonnal, Witkowski and Ropartz are beginning
to have some familiarity to the listening public or at least to those
who are prepared to push the boat out into unfamiliar seas.
Hahn's 27 (or so) minute Quintet heaves and
sways with a quick romantic melos contrasted with the tenderest rocking
lullaby of an Andante. This oasis is clouded with elusive regret
and a sense of bereavement which would assuredly have spoken to audiences
at the time. Wounds and loss would not have been much softened four
years after the Great War. Hahn perfectly judges the emotional symmetry
in opening the Allegretto grazioso finale with an easy joyful
tune. This glides with Mozartian grace in an effect that also reminded
me of the instrumental writing in Gurney's song cycle Ludlow and
The Vierne was written under the shadow of so
much loss that one wonders how Vierne could have supported such sorrow.
The Quintet's Poco lento moderato and Maestoso are by
no means pretty; indeed they strikes me as sinister, angry and wounded.
The resolute attack of the players recalls that other masterwork of
the same decade - Arnold Bax's even more extended Piano Quintet (1915)
- available on Chandos and not to be missed. Severity, sincerity and
emotion meet in the pages of the Larghetto - so many treasurable
The Hyperion Vierne Piano Quintet has competition from
PIERRE VERANY PV700011 coupled with the same composer's String
Quartet. PV's Quatuor Athenaeum Enesco take almost two minutes longer
in the Larghetto sontenuto. Hyperion's transparency and emphasis
of sound is superior. There is also a more finely controlled approach
in the hands of the Chilingirian and Coombs.
I cannot speak too highly of Francis Pott's essays.
I have seen several of these from Hyperion and they are consistently
in step with Hyperion's house standard of encyclopaedic detail, personality,
humour and pathos.
Two deeply moving works from the French Musical Renaissance.
Their roots grip the loss, sinister and tender of the Great War. Loving
interpretations with sound and documentation the equal of the performances.