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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA66907
Recording details: June 1996
Channel Classics Studio BV, Philipszaal Eindhoven, Netherlands
Produced by Arnout Probst
Engineered by Arnout Probst & Bert Van der Wolf
Release date: October 1997
Total duration: 35 minutes 6 seconds

'It is difficult not to succumb to what has been aptly called Chausson's 'refined and voluptuous melancholy', to a richness and complexity that can engulf the senses' (Gramophone)

'These accounts traverse the gamut of emotions, bristling with energy, lyricism and conviction, and ensuring that this disc will never gather much dust' (BBC Music Magazine)

'An exemplary recording of one of his finest works' (The Times)

'The listener is left entirely free to revel in Chausson's sensualistic palette of scented harmonies and timbres. A revelation – certainly one of my top releases for 1997' (Classic CD)

‘This really is very fine … the sense of teamwork is quite exceptional and the resulting music-making radiates an inspiring eloquence … a release no true Francophile can afford to miss’ (Hi-Fi News)

‘This release counts as desert-island material’ (Soundscapes, Australia)

'Un fort bon disque qui confirme les excellents choix artistiques d'Hyperion dans le répertoire française' (Répertoire, France)

Piano Quartet in A major, Op 30

Animé  [11'29]
Très calme  [8'39]
Animé  [11'13]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In the period between July and September 1897, Chausson was to return to chamber music to compose his Piano Quartet in A major, Op 30, dedicated to Auguste Pierret, who had courageously assured the success of the earlier Concert by standing in, at virtually no notice, for the pianist Litta.

The opening Animé in 2/2 develops into three themes: the first, given to the piano, establishes the key of A major; the second sings on the viola above keyboard sextuplets; and finally the third, plus lent, spreads its lilting rhythm over the right hand of the piano, preceded by a brief reminder of all that has gone before. The development then appears as a kind of perpetual modulation essentially based on the first theme, remaining harmonically in A major throughout, thus allowing numerous rhythmical and tonal combinations, notably C, F sharp, B and E flat. The other two themes are interwoven to add drama and heighten the contrasts and appear in the passages where psychological or musical tensions have crept in. Finally, at the end of the movement, the second subject undergoes several metamorphoses before modulating to A with the recapitulation of the first theme.

The following Très calme, also in ternary form, gives the viola, over long, gentle chords on the piano, a beautiful theme in D flat major. This is followed by a different theme in F, which sheds light on the debate. A radiant calm emanates from this gloriously poetic tune and makes this movement one of Chausson’s greatest achievements.

The Simple et sans hâte, which takes the place of a scherzo, prolongs this mood, the second motif seemingly emerging from the first, with a true elegance accentuated now and again by pizzicati or skilful modulations which give it light and shade.

At first disturbed, the final Animé becomes alert and lively. After a brief introduction, all the themes come into play: the piano provides strong rhythmic accompaniment and, after a brief reminder of the opening subject, a second theme appears, alternating between D flat and C minor. Throughout the development Chausson, true to the cyclical form so beloved of his teacher César Franck, reintroduces the work’s main themes, notably the first and third which dominate, while the tenderness of the fourth softens the impact for a few moments. The finale, however, is unambiguous, leaving the final word to the first subject which resolves in a dazzling A major. The Quartet has an infectious vitality and undeniable force which was fully appreciated when the work was premiered on 2 April 1898 at the National Society of Music by Pierret, Parent, Denoyer and Baretti.

from notes by Jean Gallois © 1997
English: Celia Ballantyne

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