Hahn: Piano Quintet in F minor; String Quartets in A minor & in F

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COMPOSERS: Hahn
LABELS: Auvidis Valois
WORKS: Piano Quintet in F minor; String Quartets in A minor & in F
PERFORMER: Alexandre Tharaud (piano); Parisii Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: V 4848
‘Of all the works by Reynaldo Hahn,’ wrote critic Claude Rostand after the 1921 premiere of Hahn’s Piano Quintet, ‘this is the one I would choose if there were to be only one.’ Venezuelan by birth, Reynaldo Hahn (1875-1947) lived in Paris from the age of three, later studying at the Conservatoire with Massenet. His coterie included Marcel Proust and Sarah Bernhardt, and his reputation as a songsmith assured passing acknowledgement in the history books, but paltry representation on disc.

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If you enjoy Franck’s or Fauré’s piano quintets, you’ll find Hahn’s potent lyricism and bewitching sonorities irresistible, especially in this magnetically compelling account from pianist Alexandre Tharaud and the Parisii Quartet. Their faultlessly idiomatic performance has such vitality and passion that one can scarcely imagine the work played any better, not that the fact excuses almost 80 years of neglect.

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While the Twenties and Thirties saw renewed interest in the string quartet among young French composers, including Honegger and Milhaud, Hahn had dismissed the genre as ‘fundamentally incomplete’, only to return to it twice during the final decade of his life. Hahn’s Quartets in A minor and F major (dating from 1939-40) and Piano Quintet each receive world-premiere recordings here. Highly recommended. Michael Jameson