Quintet for Piano and Strings (1922)
String Quartet (1909)
Alain Jacquon, piano
Timpani 1C1066 74:33
Jean Cras was an officer in the French Navy, and an extremely talented musical autodidact. He was tutored for a short but intensive period by Henri Duparc, and he spoke fluently the language of Debussy, Ravel, and the Impressionists.
Cras' Quintet for piano and strings was planned as a musical shipboard adventure. The four movements are marked "Clear and Joyful, Calm and Peaceful, Alert and Decisive, Passionate and Proud" and there are program notes to go along with them. As you listen, you can hear the influence of his native Brittany's sea shanties, the hints of the foreign ports of call, the exotic scales of Arabic and Asian music, and in the last movement – about three and a half minutes into the movement) – you can hear an imitation of a Chinese stringed instrument (erhu). All are woven seamlessly into the fabric of the music.
Ordinarily I don't like having "programs" imposed upon my listening, but there is enough good music here for you to write your own adventure. The constant motion is IN the music; the swells of sound could really be the sea!
There is another composition of Cras' that will thrill those who hunger for more ocean voyages: His Ship's Log (Journal de bard) can be found on Timpani 2C2037 in an excellent 2CD set of Cras' orchestral music. However I found that with just a piano and four strings Cras could provide me with the emotions and colors of my own cruise on a luxury liner.