A French Connection
Chausson: Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet in D; Debussy: Preludes, Book 2 – selection; Franck: Violin Sonata
Daniel Rowland (violin), Natacha Kudritskaya (piano), et al
Champs Hill CHR CD157 78:58 mins
One of the most remarkable French chamber works is also among the hardest to programme. Full of ardent lyricism, Chausson’s Concert for violin, piano and string quartet is part slimmed-down double concerto, part expanded piano quintet and part supercharged violin sonata, but entirely a masterpiece. Unlike some chamber-oriented alternates, this new version pairs it with the Sonata by Chausson’s teacher, Franck, and unquestionably places violinist Daniel Rowland at the forefront, conceptually and sonically. While the pianist is Rowland’s regular partner Natacha Kudritskaya, the string quartet is bespoke, its members not even named on the front or back covers. Nonetheless, there is a palpable sense of enthusiastic collective music-making from violinists Francesco Sica and Asia Jiménez Antón de Vez, violist Joel Waterman and cellist Maja Bogdanović.
The Concert’s vast emotional sweep is conveyed with a natural awareness of the ebb and flow of its intense passions. The slow movement is expertly paced, from the tightly-controlled supplication at the opening via the climax’s fervent outpouring to enervating subsidence at its exhausted conclusion. Rowland’s ability to sustain an arching melodic line with searing intensity is evident both here and in the Franck, while Kudritskaya’s finely judged pianism impresses no less. The Sonata is beautifully played with plenty of character, with delectably veiled tone from both players in the first movement. Three Debussy Preludes in generally effective arrangements by Craig White provide a palate cleanser between Chausson’s and Franck’s rich offerings, though, unfortunately, ‘Canope’ and ‘Bruyères’ are listed the wrong way round.