WORKS: Concert in D for Violin, Piano & String Quartet
PERFORMER: Elmar Oliveira (violin), Robert Koenig (piano); Vista Nuova Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: LAW 018
Franckophiles have good cause to regret that the object of their affection bequeathed to the world so few chamber works of distinction. Happily, his followers, among them Chausson and Lekeu, did more than simply worship uncritically at the shrine, but produced in some cases music which, if not quite scaling the heights of the maître’s own Violin Sonata, String Quartet and Piano Quintet, demonstrates that the cloning of characteristic Franckian elements need not result in derivative or changeling offspring.
The hypersensitive Guillaume Lekeu, dead at 24, is the great might-have-been of 19th-century French music. His half-hour Violin Sonata stands as his most eloquent and striking memorial, unfolding over its three restless, but rarely unfocused movements a stream of endless melody that poses severe demands on the tonal equipment of the soloist. Elmar Oliveira rises nobly to the challenge, bringing sweet tone and the full-blooded portamento of an older tradition. His excellent pianist, the Canadian Robert Koenig, keeps a firm grip on Lekeu’s potentially wayward structures. They are joined in Chausson’s popular Concert by the reliable Vista Nuova Ensemble. As with the Lekeu, this is powerful, intense stuff, saved from total self-absorption by Koenig’s fearless intellectual grip and fired by Oliveira’s hedonistic love of rich violin sonority – just what this heady music needs. Antony Bye