Fauré • Ravel
A Fauré of confident ambition, rather than diffident sentimentality emerges in his piano quartets and quintets. Nothing you’ll hear in the benchmark Decca performance of the Op. 15 Piano Quartet from Pascal Rogé and the Ysaÿe Quartet could really suggest otherwise. This new Metronome account from Juno’s Band doesn’t convey much in the way of epic grandeur, but these players evince the shifting moods and fleeting visions of the work to creditable effect at times. For example, they give a beautifully inflected reading of the Adagio, with Ian Brown’s supportive piano contributions a model of attentiveness, though considerable credit for fine instrumental balance throughout goes to Tryggvi Tryggvason’s engineering. String playing here never matches the sonorous depth of the Ysaÿe Quartet and, fine as he is, Brown isn’t in the class of Pascal Rogé, whose unwaveringly cultured and idiomatic pianism manages to draw out the deeper undertow of this music without diminishing its scale. Juno’s Band comes closer in spirit to the more lightweight, but nevertheless attractive recent ASV performance from the Schubert Ensemble of London. Both find liquidity and poetry in this work, but I can’t help feeling that Fauré intended to convey far deeper emotions than either would suggest, as Rogé and the Ysaÿe powerfully affirm. Juno’s Band gives a frank, forthright reading of Ravel’s Piano Trio. It’s not without technical weaknesses, mainly in the tremendously difficult second movement (‘Pantoum’) and riotous finale, and presents no challenge to the definitive Ravel-Chausson coupling from the Beaux Arts Trio on Philips.