Timpani have another
winner on their hands with this disc. They have already invested heavily
in the Breton composer, Jean Cras. They have
discs of his songs, piano music and a double of his orchestral music.
There are a couple of largely complementary Cras
discs from Skarbo so overall this can be counted something of a Cras renaissance which began in 1990 and continues to move
was completed on board the destroyer 'Amiral
Sénès'. It is in four movements which thrive
on ecstatic motion taking the way of Florestan and Eusebius in juxtaposing the intoxication of
surging fff excitement with reflection and calm. This is accentuated
by the poignant nasal quality of the Louvigny violins. Perhaps unwisely Cras
left a programme which portrays the four movements in terms of the vigour
of sea air as the voyage begins (a sort of conflation of the start of
Bax's Fourth Symphony and the vitality of the chamber music of Vierne,
d'Ollonne and Ropartz), the calm of an African
evening (potently exotic at 3.25), the lively strangeness of an African
city and the proud passion of the homeward voyage with a following wind
and the recollection of adventure and strangeness. The proud theme marked
ardent et fière is played just so by the accomplished Louvigny. The frequent filigree work (verging on gamelan)
and priest-like statement reminded me of two Bax
works - Winter Legends and the 1915 Piano Quintet.
Quartet is dedicated 'À ma Bretagne'. It is
shown as String Quartet No. 1 but there was never a No. 2. It communicates
as a highly accomplished essay in string quartet expression but lacks
individuality. It is the culmination of his apprenticeship years so
you should not look for the qualities of imagination that you find in
the Quintet. Like the Quintet there are four movements. The music touches,
at quite a few points, the mid and late period quartets of Beethoven.
Perhaps this is not surprising when you recall that Duparc
gave Cras a small volume of the Beethoven
quartets which the young officer took on his sea voyages.
effect is completed by literate and wide-ranging notes from Michel Fleury.
noting the passion and strong engagement instantly evident from Louvigny and Jacquon I only pause
to note that Cras's gravestone in Brest has,
under his name, the subscription 'Contre-Amiral
et Compositeur'. Whose choice was the sequence of fame?
a lovely disc to place alongside the other volumes in the Cras
Timpani series and on the same shelf as the Hyperion Vierne/Hahn
and the Bonnal on Pierre Verany.