- Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 3
- Concert, for violin, piano & string quartet in D major, Op. 21
Chausson: Concert for Violin, Piano & String Quartet; Piano Trioby Wihan Quartet
French composer Ernest Chausson produced an abundance of songs yet struggled to produce any impressive quantity of large-scale works. Perhaps his greatest achievement outside of his songs is the "Op. 21 Concert," scored for violin, piano, and string quartet. The instrumentation and formal structure of the piece, which took some three years to complete, is a perfect illustration of Chausson's struggles. Though the solo violin figures prominently, the instrumental forces are continuously reconfigured to give various instruments and combinations thereof the starring role. Performing this unique and monumental work are the Wihan String Quartet joined by violinist Stephen Shipps and pianist Eric Larsen (both of the Meadowmount Trio). The ensemble does a nice job of capturing all of these changing textures and combinations and does so while maintaining an intense but rich, warm sound. The outer Anime movements are driven and exciting; the third movement Grave is breathtaking in its stillness and gravitas. Intonation is generally good, though Shipps occasionally sounds sharp compared to the Wihan members. The disc concludes with Chausson's first major completed chamber work, the "G minor Piano Trio." The Meadowmount members do a commendable job of revitalizing this youthful work that can sometimes pale in comparison to the concert. There is a great deal of unison and octave playing between the cello and the violin in the Trio; Shipps and cellist Owen Carman pleasingly match pitch throughout. Naxos' sound is clear and responsive.
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Performance CreditsWihan Quartet Primary Artist
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This disc of chamber music by Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) offers solid readings of one of the Parisian composers great works, the Concert in D major, Op. 21 and the Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 3, by the Wihan String Quartet with Eric Larsen, piano and Stephen Shipps, violin, and the Meadowmount Trio, respectively. Originally premiered in 1892 in a performance by the great 19th century virtuoso Eugene Ysaye and the quartet of his student Mathieu Crickboom with Auguste Pierret at the piano, and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, the Concert has remained a stable, if peripheral, part of the chamber music repertoire for the last century and beyond. An admirer of Wagner and pupil of Massenet and Franck, Chausson's music could be described as an amalgam of these influences, yet such a characterization is too dismissive. Chausson's music has its own character, which finds its finest expression in his slower movements, such as the grave from the Concert, in which a melancholic chromaticism inspires thoughts of the fin de siècle Paris of Henry James's The Ambassadors. The The Wihan Quartet performs this work ably and admirably, as do the pianist Larsen and the solo violinist Shipps, who offers a subtle rendition of the work, despite a few tenuous entrances. The Piano Trio is another fine piece, played elegantly by the Meadowmount Trio (comprised of Larsen, Shipps, and cellist Owen Carman). A great disc, well worth a listen.