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Joseph-Guy ROPARTZ (1864-1955)
Volume 3 - The String Quartets
String Quartet No. 1 (1893) [43:50]
Fantaisie Brève (sur un thème unique sur le nom d'Albéric Magnard) (1892) [15:33]
Quatuor Stanislas
rec. November 2007, Auditorium du Conservatoire Régional du Grand Nancy. DDD
first recordings
TIMPANI 1C1121 [59:32] 
Experience Classicsonline

Uniquely the Timpani catalogue carries ten discs devoted exclusively to Ropartz. By the end of 2009, with the release of Leng-Lessing's version of the Third Symphony it will be eleven. Four discs are devoted to Ropartz's chamber music including three dedicated to the complete string quartets: 2 and 3 (1C1099); 4, 5  and 6 (1C1115). 

The present disc completes the quartet cycle with two efforts from 1892-93 when the composer was only 28-29. As the fulsome notes by Mathieu Ferey and Benoît Menut point out, the First Quartet was written only a few years after Franck's sole quartet and d'Indy's First Quartet. The Ropartz is dedicated to d'Indy. It is a big ebullient work, bursting with invention yet far from iconoclastic. It stands somewhere between Franck, Beethoven and folk-nationalism. There is a very moving and inward Assez lent (III) and a wildly lurching mood-tornado of a finale - almost a Gallic Francesca da Rimini.  The Stanislas has a piercing, resinous and poignant sound rather than anything luxuriant. This seems to suit the music very well. The Fantaisie Breve is also in four movements but much shorter. They are, by turns, tragic and torpid, Bachian fugal-prayerful, bucolically pleasant with the suggestion of Dumka and finally a bustling and ultimately thoughtful finale. The theme is bound up in the name of the composer Albéric Magnard who was as close to and as trusted by Ropartz as Holst was to and by Vaughan Williams.   Both works are so lavishly open-handed with invention that one is reminded of the young Sibelius for whom ideas sprang forward in almost frightening profusion. 

The last and pleasing piece in the jigsaw of Ropartz's string quartets.

Rob Barnett




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