Jean ROGER-DUCASSE (1873-1954)
Piano Quartet (1899-1912) [36:28] Maurice JAUBERT (1900-1940)
Trio italien, Op.54 (1935-36) [17:08]
Jean Doyen (piano)
rec. live radio broadcast February 1955 (Roger-Ducasse), June 1960 (Jaubert) FORGOTTEN RECORDS FR1220 [53:39]
I had a long wait before I could finally obtain a rare CD copy of Jean Roger-Ducasse’s String Quartet No. 2, performed by the Quatuor Loewenguth on the obscure Mandala label. That recording dated back to 27 February 1954. An immensely enjoyable work, it whet my appetite for this performance of the Piano Quartet, a radio broadcast made by the Trio Pasquier with Jean Doyen on piano, set down in Paris on 12 February 1955. As far as I know there’s no commercial recording of the work, and it seems inexcusable to me that an ensemble hasn’t taken it into the studio in recent times. I can only thank Forgotten records for making this radio broadcast available.
The Piano Quartet had a lengthy gestation from 1899 to 1912, and the work bears a dedication to the French pianist Marguerite Long. Cast in four movements, the first sounds like something that could have emanated from the pen of Fauré in parts. Roger-Ducasse was a pupil of the composer at the Paris Conservatoire and later became a close friend. There follows a scherzo-like movement, sunny in demeanor. The slow movement is pensive and sombre, which acts as the emotional heart of the work. The dark tensions are released in the animated finale, here played with gusto, verve and vigour.
Although he died young, in action during World War II aged only forty, the French composer Maurice Jaubert was prolific. He provided scores for some of the most important films of the early sound era in France. His Trio italien, Op.54 occupied him during 1935-1936 and was premiered in Paris by the Trio Pasquier on 26 April 1937. This radio broadcast dates from 14 June 1960. It consists of four short movements – a mirthful Sicilienne, an unsmiling Sarabande, a lyrical Sérénade and a effervescent Saltarelle. The performance oozes infectious Gallic charm.
Of the two radio performances, the Roger-Ducasse is in inferior boxy sound, I would even go as far as to say that it appears rather claustrophobic There are no such issues with the Jaubert, which benefits from a more resonant and spacious ambience.
I’m in no doubt that both works would benefit from some modern-day advocacy. Stephen Greenbank
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