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Name of Work

Chausson, Ernest (1855-1899)
Concerto in D, Op. 21 for piano, violin, string quartet

Sicilienne: Pas vite
Finale" Tres anime


Apr 17, 2002

Midori Midori, Violin
Robert McDonald, Piano
Joseph Genualdi, Viola
Jasmine Lin, Violin
Rami Solomonow, Viola
Christopher Costanza, Cello

CHAUSSON-Concerto in D for Piano, Violin, and String Quartet,

Composed 1889-91

Chausson was a pupil of Cesar Franck (1822-1890) having transferred to his classes from those of Jules Massenet (1842-1912). Though he composed operas, his reputation has lasted through his songs and instrumental music, notably the Poème for violin and orchestra, his quartet, and the present work. Chausson wrote this piece under the tutelage of Cesar Franck between 1889-1891, but dedicated it to the famous violinist, Eugene Ysaye, who was not only delighted with the piece, but who also played the solo violin part at its first performance in Brussels in 1892. The critic K.S. Sorabji calls it "one of the most original and beautiful chamber works of modern times." The impressive feature is Chausson's treatment of all the component parts: both solo instruments, even when treated antiphonally or as duettists, are granted a rare freedom and breadth of development which in no way interferes with the generous lines along which the quartet proceeds, but which at the same time draw from their pervading quality all necessary sustenance and support. An extremely personal style —firm, elegant, clear — resulted from Chausson's desire to not only purge French music from the Teutonic forces, but also to encourage the revivification of French music through the composition of symphonies and chamber music.

The first movement, organized around the 18th century sonata form, begins with a 34 measure introduction, which is dominated by the opening three-note motive. Both the first and second themes claim their origins in the introductory motive, which gives the movement an inner coherence. The second movement entitled "Sicilienne" employs a baroque dance rhythm. The entire portion of the concerto is built wholly on the opening lulling melody. The third movement, a Grave in D minor, is largely a mood description; rather foreboding and fatefully resigned in character. As in the first movement, the two themes are not only connected, but also dominated by chromaticism. Finally, the last movement, the finale (tres anime), contains essentially one idea which is treated in variation rather than in sonata form. The movement contains a minimum of melodic development, but mostly rhythmic amplification or abbreviation. It obeys the Franckian cyclic aesthetic by quoting previous themes, and presenting a variation of one, which forms the basis for a rather extensive coda.

Program notes by Dr. Thomas A. Brown

Performed April 17, 2002 (CSQ)

Performance Audio

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