Jean CARTAN (1906-1932)
The complete chamber music.
String Quartet no.1 in D minor (1927) [18:10]
Introduction and Allegro, for wind quintet and piano* (1926-27/1930) [8:16]
Sonatine, for flute and clarinet (1930) [9:13]
String Quartet no.2 in A (1930-31) [25:00]
Ensemble Stanislas* (Olivier Sauvage (flute); Pierre Colombain (oboe); Philippe Moinet (clarinet); Nicolas Tacchi (bassoon); Pierre Riffault (horn); Catherine Chaufard (piano)); Quatuor Stanislas (Laurent Causse and Bertrand Menut (violins); Marie Triplet (viola); Jean de Spengler (cello))
rec. Salle Poirel, Nancy, France, June 2010 and February 2011. DDD
TIMPANI 1C1187 [60:53]
This Nancy-born composer studied at the Paris Conservatoire with Dukas and Widor. His enduring mentor was Roussel. He died of TB.
Cartan may have claimed his himself to be a neo-classical stylist but his music is mostly alive with the conflict between succulent melody and tense dissonance. The quartets place emphasis on the dissonance while the other two works accent the melody.
The grittily determined String Quartet No. 1 suggests Ravel struggling through the thickets of dissonance. It’s essentially lyrical music but in the embrace of Schoenbergian complexity. Its dreamy luxury reminded me at various times of both Howells and Zemlinsky. Jaunty urbanities and grotesquerie characterise the second movement. This preludes a lugubrious yet basically brisk Très lent. The finale is a breezy and at first witty Très animé. The work ends in the same provocatively haunted witch-wood tangle heard in the first movement.
The Introduction and Allegro for flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano wears a Maytime smile. It recalled for me the ensemble works of de Falla and Bliss but with a more melodic magnetism. There is about it something of the Ravel namesake work and of the Bliss chamber works such as Rhapsody and Madame Noy.
The three movement Sonatine for flute and clarinet is a shade more severe and melancholy. Its dappled central movement is irresistibly reminiscent of Debussy's Faune. The sleepy luxury of that movement is blown away by the final panel which still finds time to muse in sunny security.
The Second Quartet is also in three movements. Again one senses spring-coiled tension but this is spun with intermittent melodic relief. Lichen-hung darkness predominates but these tendrils are swept aside for a ruthless hunting scherzo. The whole thing is very much on its toes.
The Ensemble et Quatuor Stanislas have made a lustrous contribution to the Timpani catalogue: Emmanuel chamber music 1C1167, Ropartz quartets: 2 and 3 1C1099, 4-6 1C1115, and 1 1C1121; String Trio 1C1118 and Schmitt Piano Quintet 1C1152. This track record is in no way compromised by their advocacy for Jean Cartan.
Alive with the conflict between succulent melody and tense dissonance.
see also review by Byzantion