Three French string
quartets in idiomatic performances and
You may well be familiar
with these recordings from the Erato
stable. Bless Warners for giving them
a new lease of life at a price unimaginably
attractive when these were first issued.
The set has many virtues and the performances
are completely consonant with the inherent
character of the music. None of these
works are exactly common and I certainly
hope that collectors will be tempted
to chance their arm for an experimental
The Chausson is
bathed in a late-romantic warmth, an
aura glows over the contours of the
themes. There is a most lovely Très
Calme middle movement ending with
a sigh. The Via Nova project inwardness
and concentration. The quartet was left
incomplete when Chausson died as a result
of a cycling accident. He had completed
the first two movements and most of
the third. D'Indy finished the work
from Chausson's sketches giving it a
superb and blazingly affirmative finale.
It works very well as a mood-piece although
the lyrical themes lack strongly memorable
The Roussel is
the latest work here. It is from his
neo-classical phase. There are four
movements. Roussel died in the Atlantic
resort of Royan in 1927 five years after
completing this quartet. Chaffing vigour,
impudence, even brashness are to be
found here. There is a mesmerising adagio
reaching back to the Chausson Très
Calme and to Schubert's String Quintet.
The Magnard dwarfs
the other two quartets both in duration
and in mastery of expression. It is
much closer in style to the Chausson
than to the Roussel although the busy
rhythmic interest of the Sérénade
sometimes seems to look forward to Roussel.
Magnard has less of a tendency to luxuriate
in the warmth of the writing. There
is a more lively feeling to the writing
with plenty of variety and active detailing.
The third movement is a Chant Funèbre;
it breathes tragedy and the memory of
days gone by. At the end of the movement
the music glistens with silvery magic.
The finale is called Danses.
The contrapuntal riches continue, threaded
through with Franckian melos and mixed
with the mystery of the late quartets
of Beethoven. The approach remains committedly
Very good notes by
Raymond McGill. Packaging typical of
the Apex line. Single width case.