Verne

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Verne
LABELS: Timpani
ALBUM TITLE: Verne: Complete Chamber Music
WORKS: Violin Sonata; Cello Sonata; Piano Quintet; String Quartet
PERFORMER: Christian Moreaux (oboe), Pascale Zanlonghi (harp), Alexis Galpérine (violin), Odile Carracilly (viola), Yvan Chiffoleau (cello), François Kerdoncuff, Olivier Gardon (piano); Quatuor Phillips
CATALOGUE NO: 2 C 2098 (Reissue: 1990-93)
Why has a talented late-Romantic composer, with the passion and tragic sensibility of a Rachmaninov, come to be remembered almost exclusively for his weekend job at the organ of Notre-Dame? The fifth release in the Timpani label’s marvellous survey of Vierne’s music, these two entrancing discs are packed with treasures. The intense ardour of the sonatas for violin and cello, written for Ysaÿe and Casals respectively, should win many converts to Vierne’s cause. If the style here hovers between Franck, Elgar and Rachmaninov, there are signs of Debussy’s influence in the much later cello collection Soirs étrangers.

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The youthful string quartet is remarkable in the composer’s output for its easy-going nature; a charming work, but not matching the profundity of later offerings, even with the impressive advocacy of the Quatuor Phillips. The minor works are little gems as well, especially the two viola pieces, but it is the Piano Quintet that makes this set indispensable. Written after the death of Vierne’s son, the raw emotions attest to the composer’s desire to ‘bury him in a roar of thunder and not in the plaintive bleating of a resigned, complacent sheep’. Emotion and technique combine to stunning effect, especially when allied, as in the other works, to first-rate performances and sound. Strongly recommended. Christopher Dingle