Faure, Franck: Fauré: String Quartet in E minor; Franck: String Quartet in D

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COMPOSERS: Faure,Franck
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Fauré, Franck
WORKS: Fauré: String Quartet in E minor; Franck: String Quartet in D
PERFORMER: Dante Quartet


This is a fascinating juxtaposition. Franck and Fauré are often regarded as, if not diametrically opposed, then firmly on different sides of the aesthetic arguments during the Belle Epoque about what it meant to be a French composer. Nonetheless, both favoured functional titles for their chamber works, and it so happens that each wrote just one string quartet, not long before their death and, in both cases, they are sublime, yet undervalued masterpieces. The Dante Quartet are superb advocates, especially in the Franck, where they are without peer among modern accounts. Taking the work by the scruff of the neck, they manage to maintain the intensity of feeling across its vast span, with there never being any doubt about the direction, and the vigour of this full-blooded performance being maintained to the last, heartfelt notes. The mercurial scurrying of the Scherzo is fleet-footed while hinting of darker things, and the Larghetto’s slow interplay of characters is finely judged, with Hyperion providing warm, if occasionally close sound. It may have been better to start with the Fauré, for this self-effacing work struggles a little to make its case after the emotional onslaught of the Franck. That said, the context enables an unsuspected debt to late Beethoven to emerge in the first movement, with Fauré’s music sounding unexpectedly heavy in the Dante’s hands. A touch more light and shade would be welcome, especially in the genial final movement, but this is still an enjoyable performance. Christopher Dingle