Chausson/Franck

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Chausson/Franck
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Concert in D for violin, piano & string quartet, Op. 21; Violin Sonata in A
PERFORMER: Pierre Amoyal (violin), Pascal Rogé (piano), Quatuor Ysaÿe
CATALOGUE NO: 444 172-2 DDD
‘Free yourself from a preoccupation with the inner parts of the texture… find the perfect expression for an idea and add only as much detail as is absolutely necessary’ was Debussy’s advice to Chausson. The latter’s Concert for violin, piano and string quartet is a rare example of profoundly Romantic but mercifully uncluttered chamber music. The problem with this recording is that the inner parts are almost lost altogether. There are moments when we seem to be hearing a work for violin and piano blurred with only a mist-like memory of a string quartet. This is not helped by Amoyal’s shrill tone. He uses a constant, fast but fairly wide vibrato which gives his playing an old-fashioned air. There are moments in the charming Sicilienne and the penetrating, funereal Grave when I longed for him to release the sound.

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Despite the odd balance, this is an enjoyable account of a brilliant work and an ideal coupling with Franck’s Sonata. Both works were dedicated to the great Belgian Eugène Ysaÿe and they share a compelling structural unity based on sparse ingredients. Just as the Franck famously uncoils its first melody, the Chausson’s open fifth and major second intervals prove fertile.

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Rogé and Amoyal’s reading of the Franck is intriguing. They draw the first movement out to its utmost limits, Rogé finding a marvellous stillness in the piano part. Even the Allegro is unhurried, the Allegretto one of the gentlest, least showy I have yet heard. Helen Wallace