Jean HURÉ (1877-1930)
Violin Sonata (1900-01) [40:36] ¹
Piano Quintet (1907-08) [30:34]
Philippe Koch (violin); Marie-Josèphe Jude (piano) ¹
Louvigny Quartet and Marie-Josèphe Jude (piano)
rec. April and June 2009, Philharmonie, Luxembourg
TIMPANI 1C1166 [71:19]
Huré was born in Gien in 1877 and though his early years are to a large extent shrouded in biographical silence, it’s known that he was in Paris by 1895. Here he ran a concert series and became a school founder (the École Normale de Musique – Cortot founded one by the same name years later but there was no connection). Huré was a composer, teacher, critic and musicologist. He also aligned himself with Ravel, Koechlin and Schmitt against the prevailing power of d’Indy and his disciples, who effectively controlled the Société National de Musique.
The Violin Sonata was completed by the time he was twenty-four. Only published in its definitive edition in 1920, it’s a big, four movement statement couched in a bold, somewhat diffuse form. It shares something of Lekeu’s hothouse ethos and something too of Fauré’s lyricism, though one would not mistake it for the work of either composer at any time in their development. It’s not that the development of themes is tentative or that the writing is sometimes rather long-winded, more that the harmonies are quite bracing, and it’s this that gives the sonata its sense of individuality rather than obviously memorable thematic material.
Huré gives the violin some oratorical monologues, a number of which are succulently heightened by Philippe Koch, a scion of the Koch violinistic dynasty, who plays with great commitment and care throughout. He and Marie-Josèphe Jude do their best to minimise the discursive elements of the music and they do particularly well in the second movement in which its athleticism and vitality are ripely conveyed. The writing here is impassioned, the piano’s rich chording supporting a soaring violin line. Fanciful scherzos are a Gallic stock in trade and Huré doesn’t disappoint and its dance warmth reminds one of Debussy. The finale’s pirouetting remains unfocused, despite the lovely piano melody – the best in the work – from about 6:30. The reflective passage before the sprightly close is ingratiating.
After the often pleasurable but diffuse sprawl of the sonata the Piano Quintet is a more concentrated work. It strives less and reveals more as a result. Gone are the profusion of ideas and in their place some winsome and highly attractive pastoral-carillon and folkloric gestures. If this suggests a measurably more archaic frame of reference I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. However the mellifluousness of the writing demonstrates a distinct compositional advance in the six years since the writing of the sonata. Once again the performances are splendid. Koch is first violin of the Louvigny Quartet and shows real affinity with the composer’s idiom.
The recording is warm and well focused. And the fine booklet note – in English and French – goes into considerable technical detail regarding the works. The cover artwork is a delight.