WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 1 in A, Op. 13; Dolly Suite; Piano Quintet No. 2 in C minor, Op. 115
PERFORMER: Nash Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: 3505
This disc has a certain symmetry to it, coupling Fauré’s earliest chamber work with the mid-period Dolly Suite and the late Piano Quintet. If the concept is harmonious, the playing is not always so. Marcia Crayford’s tone in the A major Violin Sonata lacks something of confidence and authority, weak and pinched where it could be expansive, and often just a short step away from meagreness.
The Dolly Suite comes alive in an exciting ‘Le pas espagnol’, but elsewhere is sleepy, neutral salon music par excellence. The Nash does itself justice, however, in the Piano Quintet, where exemplary, intuitive ensemble-work almost makes one forget the group is composed of individuals.
Like many old men, Fauré had become garrulous and only intermittently interesting by the time of the Quintet, but the Nash Ensemble’s liveliness and vigour – perhaps lacking something of the Ysaÿe Quartet’s panache – do much to soften the composer’s prolixities. Christopher Wood