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Friday, March 3, 2017

Ernest Chausson; Vincent d'Indy - String Quartets (Chilingirian Quartet)


Composer: Ernest Chausson; Vincent d'Indy
  1. Chausson - String Quartet in C minor, Op. 35: 1. Grave – Modéré
  2. Chausson - String Quartet in C minor, Op. 35: 2. Très calme
  3. Chausson - String Quartet in C minor, Op. 35: 3. Gaiement, pas trop vite
  4. d'Indy - String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 35: 1. Lent et soutenu – Un peu plus vite
  5. d'Indy - String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 35: 2. Lent et calme
  6. d'Indy - String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 35: 3. Assez modéré
  7. d'Indy - String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Op. 35: 4. Assez lent

Chilingirian Quartet
Levon Chilingirian, violin
Charles Sewart, violin
Ásdís Valdimarsdottir, viola
Philip De Groote, cello

Date: 1997 (1-3), 1999 (4-7)
Label: Hyperion



Had Chausson finished his String Quartet, it would surely have taken its place alongside the Concert in D and the Piano Quartet among his best-known chamber works. It was planned with the conventional four movements, but only two were completed; the scherzo-like third movement, finished by d’Indy, fails to round off the whole in an entirely satisfactory way, though all three movements are finely wrought. The Chilingirian play this highly romantic work in a boldly expressive style, their excellent balance and rhythmic sense helping to make the often complex textures very clear. The Quatuor Ludwig, with their smoother, less varied manner, make the tres calme second movement a more intense experience – it occasionally sounds somewhat like the exactly contemporary Verklarte Nacht – but on balance I prefer the Chilingirian’s more flowing speed (seven minutes rather than 10) and far greater contrast of texture and articulation. Their livelier, more sharply etched playing is a distinct advantage in the other movements, too.

Chausson’s inspiration is predominantly lyrical; d’Indy’s more eclectic style tends to the dramatic. Coming fresh to the First Quartet, I was struck by the echoes of Franck, his teacher; of late Beethoven, with several moments that recall the Ninth Symphony; and by pre-echoes of the quartet Debussy was shortly to write. D’Indy, with his purposeful formal sense and contrapuntal mastery, somehow welds this mixture together convincingly, except perhaps in the finale, where the folksy jollity doesn’t fit too well alongside the darker ideas recalled from earlier movements. The performance is really impressive; poised and with fine tone and passionate delivery, backed by typically well- balanced Hyperion recordings.

-- Duncan Druce, Gramophone

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****


Ernest Chausson (20 January 1855 – 10 June 1899) was a French romantic composer who died just as his career was beginning to flourish. He studied with Jules Massenet at the Paris Conservatoire, and  also with César Franck, with whom he formed a close friendship. Chausson left behind only 39 opus-numbered pieces.  The quality and originality of his compositions are consistently high, and several of his works continue to make occasional appearances on programs of leading singers, chamber music ensembles and orchestras.


Vincent d'Indy (27 March 1851 – 2 December 1931) was a French composer and teacher. Few of d'Indy's works are performed regularly today. His best known pieces are probably the 'Symphony on a French Mountain Air'. Inspired by his own studies with Franck and dissatisfied with the standard of teaching at the Conservatoire de Paris, d'Indy, together with Charles Bordes and Alexandre Guilmant, founded the Schola Cantorum de Paris in 1894. His students included Isaac Albéniz, Arthur Honegger, Albéric Magnard, Darius Milhaud, Albert Roussel, Erik Satie and many more.


Chilingirian Quartet, formed in 1971, is one of the best-known string quartets based in Britain, with numerous recordings over a three-decade career. Its founder is violinist Levon Chilingirian. The quartet began attracting attention soon after its founding in 1971 and appeared on the BBC early on. It has become one of the best-known quartets around the world, traveling to all six inhabited continents and having played in more than 30 countries.


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