Concert in D major for piano, violin and string quartet Op.21

Composer: Ernest Chausson (b. 1855 - d. 1899)
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Composer: Ernest Chausson (b. 1855 - d. 1899)

Performance date: 01/07/2010

Venue: Bantry Library

Composition Year: 1889-91

Duration: 00:41:44

Recording Engineer: Anton Timoney, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Small Mixed Ensemble

Instrumentation Other: vn, pf, 2vn, va, vc

Artists: Escher Quartet (Adam Barnett-Hart, Wu Jie [violins], Pierre LaPointe [viola], Dane Johansen [cello]) - [quartet]
Angela Yoffe - [piano]
Vadim Gluzman - [violin]

Concert in D major for piano, violin and string quartet Op.21

French music in the last quarter of the nineteenth century was
obsessed with establishing its own national identity. Since the disastrous
Franco-Prussian War, French composers were particularly concerned to escape the
grip of German composers, in particular the pernicious influence of the
magician of Bayreuth. Chausson went through an intense immersion in Wagnerian
sonorities from the Dutchman to Parsifal, even taking his wife to Bayreuth on
their honeymoon. However he was soon struggling to rediscover a language free
of Nordic mists and extreme Romanticism, looking backwards to the old French
masters of Couperin and Rameau and reviving their tempos and movement
indications. Thus tonight’s work is described as a Concert, as in the eighteenth
century, not a sextet. It is perhaps ironic that, despite these outward signs
of classical purity, the music itself is a heady brew of heroic gestures and
intimate sighs filled with perfume and longing.

The other creative
influence on his music was that of his teacher, César Franck, which is
particularly evident in this work with its cyclical form, many modulations and
intensely expressive lyricism. Whatever the history, the result is superb. The
three opening chords establish both the rhythm, the dramatic mood and the sound
world. After a 34-bar introduction the main theme is presented on the violin
over a piano appoggiatura, a theme that is to link each movement, and we find
ourselves in a classical sonata form exposition and development. The strings
are allowed to sing, the opening motif makes telling re-appearances and
Chausson weaves his at times passionate, at times sad song against a background
of teasing harmonies.

The Sicilienne hovers between tenderness and
elegance, between the archaic and the modern, always flirting with imbalance.
It breaks off prematurely, a sudden pause before the stark beauty of the Grave, a movement of sombre tragedy until
the moment near the end when the repressed emotion finally bursts out
sumptuously unrestrained before subsiding in despair. The finale pulsates with
energy and at times humour, until the final pages, when the music broadens and
builds climactically to a restatement of the first movement theme and a
powerful conclusion.