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CD Review

French Works for String Quartet

MD&G 3071430
  • Claude Debussy: Quartet for Strings, Op. 10
  • Gabriel Fauré: Quartet for Strings, Op. 121
  • André Caplet: Conte Fantastique after Edgar Allan Poe's "Masque of the Red Death" for Harp & String Quartet
Marie-Pierre Langlamet, harp
Leipzig String Quartet
Dabringhaus & Grimm MDG3071430-2 65m DDD
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The works written on this disc were written by composers who were members of three different generations, and consequently, their pieces differ considerably in terms of expression, compositional detail and formal conception.

Claude Debussy's String Quartet is, together with Ravel's, the most popular French work in the genre. Full of fresh ideas, the quartet evokes the exotic sounds emanating from the Orient and North Africa and the music is marked by an unusual freedom of thematic ideas.

Gabriel Fauré's work was the last undertaking of the composer before his death in 1924. He himself was responsible for its musical substance, but the dynamics and articulation markings were completed by his pupil Roger-Ducasse. The quartet is based on classical structures, with recurrent themes and keys, but a closer study reveals Fauré's mastery in the art of musical transformation.

André Caplet's 'Conte Fantastique' was inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's short story, 'The Masque of the Red Death' which centers on a group of revelers who are struck down by the plague which they thought had been barred from their midst. Caplet's music is sensitive to every change in Poe's rapidly evolving poetic narrative, resulting in a score of great polarities and mercurial shifts.

Needless to say both Langlamet and the brilliant Leipzig Quartet play these works to the manner born churning out definitive performances in the usual splendid MD&G sound. An unusual triple bill which will certainly attract fans of the quartet and if you already have the Debussy, this version is certainly an excellent acquisition.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech

Trumpet