> ROPARTZ Piano trio, Prelude, Quartet 4 1C1047 [RB]: Classical Reviews- April 2002 MusicWeb-International






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JOSEPH-GUY ROPARTZ (1864-1955)
Piano Trio (1918) 38.00
Prélude, Marine et Chansons (1928) 12.00
String Quartet No. 4 (1934) 19.00
Jean-Louis Haguenauer (piano), Alexis Galpérine (violin), Cecilia Tsan (cello) (trio) Ensemble Stanislas (second two items)
world premiere recordings rec Salle Poirel 23 Oct 1995 22-23 June 1996 TIMPANI 1C1047 [70.05]

 

Experience Classicsonline

My first encounter with the Ropartz was courtesy of the Melos Ensemble's collection of French chamber music. This included the Prélude, Marine et Chansons. I am not sure whether that elderly EMI recording is still available. In any event, so far as this ensemble piece is concerned, this disc is not a world premiere although I would be pretty sure that this is its first time on CD.

Ropartz has benefited from some interest in his music. CDs have dribbled out onto the market from various companies - usually one disc at a time. EMI 's CD of the choral third is still available on their French midprice label. I know symphonies numbers 4 and 5 from off-air recordings and can commend them for their salty and seaweed-strewn Franckian musculature. I have never heard the first two symphonies.

Ropartz's parents and forebears were of old Breton stock and he was brought up within the sea-stricken granite peninsula so haunted by dolmens and legends. After studies in Rennes, Vannes and Angers he studied in Paris with Massenet and Franck. Two conservatoires were directed by him: Nancy and Strasbourg. At retirement he returned to his native Brittany - the land that had bred so many of his works. Some worthy of mention are La Chasse du Prince Arthus, Les Landes, Scènes Bretonnes, A Marie Endormie, Soir sur les chaumes, the opera, Le Pays (Canteloube wrote one with the same title), incidental music to Pierre Lôti's Pêcheur d'Islande, and a Requiem.

The Trio is in four movements - a work Franckian in feel the first movement of which is troubled as well it might given the slaughter of those days. The second seems to recall happier times with its lively pizzicato topped note-cell. The time-suspensive Lent shadows the slow movement of John Foulds' Cello Sonata (interestingly, several of Foulds' works of the 1920s and 1930s were published in Paris). The austerity often credited to Ropartz's music holds him back from ecstasy but a relaxation into emotional excitement is certainly evident in the subdued joys of the final Animé touching on areas explored in the idylls of the Delius violin concerto and cello sonata.

A decade passes and Prélude, Marine et Chansons, cleared of romantic afflatus, speaks in a language lean and clean. It is extremely melodic but not especially impressionistic. The forces of flute, violin, viola, cello and harp would make this a good companion to Bax's Nonet, Threnody and Octet although the lines are sparer. Miniature bird-calls touch in some rich themes of medieval minstrelsy. The writing lets in the airy radiance and warmth of a Breton coastline in high summer and combines it with an aggressive stimulant which also powers Bax's ensemble works and the Piano Quintet of 1915.

There are six string quartets. The Fourth does not hold a candle to the transparency of the Prélude, Marine et Chansons. It impresses through a reserve apparent even in the two opening allegros but which continues into the chaste multiple dialogues of the Quasi lento which actually approaches the Marine of six years prior. The wild bouleversé tumble of melody in John Foulds' contemporaneous Quartetto Intimo also bursts in profusion from the final Allegro.

More, please. I want to hear the symphonies but while I am waiting let's have the other five quartets, two cello sonatas, string trio and the three violin sonatas.

This is a deluxe production in a card slipcase enclosing a full depth booklet. The notes (extremely helpful) are in French, English and German. They are by Yves Ferraton. A handsomely produced disc and one I commend very highly. Doubting Thomases should sample any part of the 'triptych' work and the finale or quasi lento of the quartet.

Reviewer

Rob Barnett

 



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