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Ernest CHAUSSON (1855-1899)
Concert Op.21 (1891)
Pièce en Ut majeur Op.39 (1897)
Régis Pasquier (violin); Jean-Claude Pennetier (piano); Roland Daugareil, Geneviève Simonot (violins); Bruno Pasquier (viola); Roland Pidoux (cello)
Recorded Paris 1983
HARMONIA MUNDI HMA 1951135 [51:02]
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Ernest Chausson's Concert pour violon, piano & quatuor a cordes Op. 21 is probably one of his best-known pieces, and quite deservedly so. It was completed in 1891 and was thus written after the beautiful Symphony in B flat op. 20. As a whole the Concert has much in common with the symphony. Both are warmly romantic, large-scale pieces, in which Franck's influence is clearly audible throughout though Chausson's personality is so strong that these works are highly personal achievements in their own terms. This substantial piece of chamber music is cast into four movements of which the opening Décidé is the weightiest and the most developed. It opens with a three-note cell hammered out by the piano and these three notes will provide most of the later thematic material throughout the piece. Indeed the whole piece gives ample proof of Chausson's ability to develop his material in sometimes unexpected ways. This long, closely argued movement is followed by a beautiful Sicilienne acting as some sort of Scherzo. The third movement Grave is the emotional heart of the work and one of Chausson's finest inventions. The work ends with a somewhat lighter, more relaxed and luminous Finale in which the main theme from the slow movement is quoted twice, emphasizing the beloved Franckian cyclic pattern informing much of Chausson's music.

We are told nothing at all about the Pièce en Ut majeur pour violoncelle et piano Op. 39. It was written in 1897 and is thus a comparatively late work. This is a beautiful short piece that should appeal to all those who relish, say, Fauré's fine Elégie for cello & piano.

Both pieces receive highly idiomatic readings by a handful of artists who are much in sympathy with the music and this reissue is most welcome indeed, especially in Harmonia Mundi's bargain-priced Musique d'abord series. The recording made in 1983 still sounds remarkably well. Recommended without any reservation whatsoever.

Hubert Culot


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