The Dante Quartet continue their award-winning exploration of the French string quartet with this disc which includes two of the greatest works of this genre.
Both quartets dazzled and disturbed at their first performances. Debussy’s fantastic, spiralling variations, resisting orthodox ‘development’ of ideas, is described as reminiscent of Monet’s in recording the variations of light on the façade of Rouen Cathedral. Traditionalist commentators were shocked, but the exotic beauty of the writing excited many, including the young Ravel. Ravel’s Quartet is to some extent an hommage to Debussy, but, typically, also a work of startling originality.
Also included is Ravel’s Violin Sonata No 2 in G major, an intriguing, jazz-influenced work, energetic but with a dark undertow of pain; written, as Ravel said, with the aim of ‘exploring the basic incompatibility of violin and piano’.