The standing Lekeu's
music is in some ways rather like that
of Butterworth and Cecil Coles. They
all died young with the promise of great
things to come. All of them also left
works themselves intrinsically impressive
Lekeu studied in Paris
with D'Indy and Franck. As expected,
his two-movement Piano Quartet is
surgingly passionate with texture piled
on texture relieved by melodies that
positively sing out towards the listener.
The second movement - a Lent et passionné
- is a lovingly calming oasis which
ends in peaceful audacity. The Piano
Quartet was his last completed composition
before typhoid carried him off.
The Molto Adagio
is marked sempre cantante doloroso
which pretty much says it all. It
looks back in lugubrious if polished
sentimentality towards Massenet and
The 1887 String
Quartet is in six movements. It
was written by the seventeen year old
composer while he was in thrall to the
late Beethoven quartets. It shares their
manner of exaltation and insight into
shining mysteries but is without their
probing profundity. Then again Lekeu
could pull off breathtakingly touching
episodes such as the iteration of enchanted
birdsong at the start of the Capriccio
(tr. 6). The Poco Allegro (tr.
8) is almost Viennese and on several
occasions it is the Mozart's cassations
and divertimenti that are invoked.
The academic aspects
of Dr Mark Delaere's notes are lightened
by his illuminating asides about the
Lekeu biography and by extracts from
the composer’s letters.
If you enjoy the Chausson
Concert, Fauré's First
Piano Quartet and the chamber music
of Max d'Ollonne you need to hear this.
Fine as it is there is much more to
Lekeu than just the Ysaÿe-commissioned