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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67028
Recording details: September 1997
La Galerie des Franciscains, Saint-Nazaire, France
Produced by Arnout Probst
Engineered by Tom Peeters
Release date: April 1998
Total duration: 30 minutes 20 seconds

'The opulent sound of this disc is ideal for Chausson … Philippe Graffin’s sensuous unforced tone sails above the texture … [he] gives a plangent account of the solo part, with something of that sense of freedom that Ysaÿe, the work’s sponsor, would certainly have conveyed … Neidich’s playing is quite remarkable for its breadth of expression in the Andante as well as for the extraordinarily brilliantly articulated Allegro. Hoffman and Devoyon are equally convincing in the beautiful, dreamy Pièce for cello and piano' (Gramophone)

'A particularly beautiful performance of the Poème by Graffin in the world premiere recording of the chamber version' (The Guardian)

'It is truly like hearing it for the first time, at least in this performance, which is far more than just technically superb' (American Record Guide)

'Philippe Graffin’s solo violin and Pascal Devoyon’s piano recreate music which, in Debussy’s words, "becomes the very feeling which inspires its emotion"' (The Times)

'[The Poème] is a delightful work, in free form, given a provocative, tenderly phrased and sympathetic performance by Graffin and the Chilingirian … charming collection, beautifully played' (Classic CD)

'A welcome successor to these artists' magnificent Hyperion [earlier Chausson recording] … the Piano Trio of 1881 receives a commanding performance—quite the finest I've heard' (Hi-Fi News)

'This is one of the most beautiful discs of chamber music I have ever heard. In every respect it is sheer perfection, the young French violinist, Philippe Graffin, playing with a passion you may be fortunate enough to hear once in your life' (Yorkshire Post)

Piano Trio in G minor, Op 3

Vite  [3'58]
Assez lent  [8'18]
Animé  [8'15]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Familiar with Baudelaire and the Greek poets, Chausson found it almost impossible to create a musical setting for the silly and simplistic text of L’Arabe, a compulsory part of the competition in Rome; his entry failed to impress the jury. But it was this failure which made him more determined than ever to compose, leading him to write a carefully constructed score brimming with lyricism and beautiful touches—as if to show the ‘establishment’ what he could really do.

Composed at Montbovon in Switzerland between mid July and mid September 1881, the Trio for piano, violin and cello established from the outset the young musician’s leaning towards chamber music at a time when his peers were moving towards opera. Above all, it shows an exceptional sense of architecture and lyricism. The opening ‘Pas trop lent’ introduces two threads, one very rhythmic—at the start of which appears a very recognizable motif (two demisemiquavers and a crochet)—and the other melodic, descending and chromatic, blending into the same motif. The ensuing theme of this movement is similarly based on two ideas, introduced by the violin in G minor and continued on the cello. The development lets us follow the thematic thread with the motif being repeated four times, fortissimo.

Conceived as an intermezzo, the second movement in B flat (‘Vite’, in 3/8) is also based around two themes, the latter being longer and more rhythmically subtle. A surprise awaits the listener in the third movement: its only theme is none other than the second motif from the first movement played at half speed. It is in this beautiful D minor piano tune, which variously hints at the work’s first motif, that the spirit and eclecticism of the musician is to be found through the unceasing changes of tonality and subtle ambiguities of harmony. In the final movement he comes full circle (having introduced two more motifs), and the principal elements of the score, slightly altered, give this Trio the cyclical form beloved of Franck. Given its first performance on 8 April 1882 at the Société Nationale de Musique, but completely overlooked (not a single critic turned up), the Trio has since come into its own, particularly since 1970.

from notes by Jean Gallois © 1998
English: Celia Ballantyne

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