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Koechlin: Piano Quintet, Op. 80; Quartet No. 3, Op. 72

Koechlin / Antigone Quartet / Lavaud
Release Date: 02/09/2010 
Label:  Ar Re-se   Catalog #: 20091   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Koechlin
Performer:  Sarah Lavaud
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Antigone Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 56 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KOECHLIN String Quartet No. 3, op. 72. Piano Quintet, op. 80 Sarah Lavaud (pn); Antigone Qrt AR RE-SE 20091 (56:04)

It would be difficult to name another composer so little beholden to the attitudes, gestures, and expectations of Western music—archaic, religious, operatic, elegant, heroic, lyric, “daringly Modern”—than Charles Koechlin, though he was deeply versed in them all. Instead, his most ambitiously Read more characteristic music hovers on the brink between the psychic and the somatic—inscapes preoccupied with sickness and healing. The movements of the Piano Quintet, for instance, follow a program familiar from other Koechlin works (e.g., Le Buisson ardent, Le Docteur Fabricius —see Fanfare 28:2) outlined in their titles—“The Obscure Wait of What Shall Be ... The Enemy Attack—The Wound ... Consoling Nature ... Joy.” Notions of dissonance, expanded tonality, chains of fifths—all the tropes of analysis, in fact—seem irrelevant in the face of a music so strangely accomplished, though one may turn to them for aural orientation. Which is to say that this aspect of Koechlin is far from surefire—an acquired taste. A taste worth acquiring? When Les Préludes, Ein Heldenleben, La Mer, Alborada del gracioso, etc., and all those works derived from them, provoke only a jaded smile one may discover a novel and rewarding, if attenuated, refreshment in Koechlin. The string quartets, on the other hand, are Koechlin at his most accessible, charm-rife and chaste through the First, wizened yet affirmative in the Second (recording premieres by the Ardeo Quartet, AR RE-SE 20063, Fanfare 31;6), and melodically generous, confidingly effusive in the Third—a manner reminiscent of Fauré’s String Quartet. The movements are very brief, the magical Scherzo, at 4:10, being the longest, and over far too soon. Allusions to reveille in the Adagio loom as distant “real”-world intrusions into an enchanted demesne grown apprehensive and elegiac, while the skipping triplets of the Final—Koechlin’s formula for joy—for once, are inspired and gratifyingly persuasive. Lightweight yet pithy, smiling but fraught, in the manner of the piano sonatinas, the Third Quartet is uniquely, radiantly satisfying and, in its offhand way, clues the ear for the altogether stranger world of the Piano Quintet. Performances are delving through the former and deftly singing in the latter. Sound is close yet open, vibrant yet detailed. Both works are disc premieres— de rigueur for Koechlin mavens, and enthusiastically recommended.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Quintet for Piano and Strings, Op. 80 by Charles Koechlin
Performer:  Sarah Lavaud (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Antigone Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908/1917-1921 
Venue:  Tibor Varga Studio, Grimisuat, Switzerla 
Length: 9 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 3, Op. 72 by Charles Koechlin
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Antigone Quartet
Period: Modern 
Venue:  Tibor Varga Studio, Grimisuat, Switzerla 
Length: 13 Minutes 14 Secs. 

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