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Delerue: String Quartets no 1 & 2 / Claudel-Canimex Quartet

Release Date: 04/08/2008 
Label:  Disques Cinémusique   Catalog #: 201   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Georges Delerue
Performer:  Simon AldrichSara LaimonLise BeauchampJeanne de Chantal Marcil,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Claudel-Canimex String QuartetClaudel String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

DELERUE 4 Pieces.1,3 Prelude and Dance.2,3 String Quartets: No. 1; No. 2 • Simon Aldrich (cl);1 Lise Beauchamp (ob);2 Sara Laimon (pn);3 Claudel-Canimex Qrt • DISQUES CINEMUSIQUE 201 (62:00)

"Georges Delerue played an important role in French film history, writing music that could enhance the realistic or romantic visions of New Wave auteurs Goddard (Contempt) and Truffaut (most famously Jules and Jim and Shoot the Piano Player) or sonorously enliven the light-hearted world of Philippe de Broca (That Man from Rio). British studios also admired his lyrical and dramatic gifts, recruiting him for Anne of the Thousand Days, A Man for All Seasons, and Women in Love. At the height of his fame he moved to Hollywood, where he was
Read more able to work with fewer budgetary constraints than in Europe. DCM’s latest shipment (see Fanfare 31:5 for my first DCM review) includes two CDs of film scores, two of concert works, and one honoring Maurice Jaubert, an innovative and influential composer.

The second “classical” disc concentrates on Delerue’s String Quartets Nos.1 and 2, but begins with Four Pieces for clarinet and piano. These brief miniatures touch on Satie and Schubert, but are not purely imitative, being graced with Delerue’s personal blend of charm and simplicity. While the first three pieces blend easily with Delerue’s film style, “Elegie”’s probing melodic line, sophisticated harmonies, and relatively complex accompaniment would only be heard in a concert hall. The bleak mood will surprise those who imagine that Delerue only wrote sweetly nostalgic romantic themes. Next, the slow, intense opening of the Prelude and Dance for oboe and piano is coupled with an energetic second movement that could find favor with modern choreographers. It’s exotic, subtly ecstatic, with a hint of Dionysian revelry.

Fontaine’s sensible advice to those encountering the quartets for the first time is to set preconceptions aside: “Throughout his career, Geoges Delerue favored the strings, often using them exclusively, or almost so, in his film scores. However, don’t expect to find here the melodic style, often tinged with romanticism, which characterizes his most famous film music. Instead, Delerue opts for a polytonal style, which inevitably is more disconcerting and sets a more dramatic tone.” It’s possible to hear the First Quartet as an homage to Ravel, but other presences make themselves heard. For example, an exultant episode at 4:55 into the Allegro reminds me of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht. The pizzicato second movement, Vif et leger, certainly brings Ravel’s Quartet to mind, but Fontaine proposes the Scherzo from Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, along with Honegger in general, as possible influences. Moving on, the Adagio is fraught with an anxiety that’s temporarily dispelled, but not vanquished, returning to end the movement on an unquiet note. Fontaine hears it differently: “The adagio . . . immerses the listener in a strange world dominated by the high register and punctuated by crescendos. Its ethereal and repetitive character lulls one into a reverie.” The last movement is vigorous and contrapuntal, concluding in a burst of energy capped by a single consonant chord; it’s unexpected, considering the preceding harmonic practice.

The Second Quartet owes more to Shostakovich than to Ravel: I hear a similar gripping intensity, dynamic accentuation, and thematic concentration throughout the three movements. Not that the earlier quartet is diffuse or less tautly argued, nor is the performance limp or lackluster—far from it. Rather it’s that the playing in the Second seems even more focused and passionate. As an example, listen to the third movement’s eerie prestissimo sections, played with flawless precision and thrilling energy.

Although I’ve stressed the ways in which Delerue’s instrumental works differ from his best-known film music, Fontaine reveals that “Despite their relative technical audacity, a boldness that falls within the aesthetic of modernity, Georges Delerue’s string quartets aren’t so far from his cinematic writing style as one might believe. Among the composer’s many film music scores are some which reflect a similar taste for experimentation, including L’insoumis, L’important c’est d’aimer, Police Python 357, and L’été meurtrier, starring, respectively, four giants of French cinema: Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Yves Montand and Isabelle Adjani.” I look forward to hearing these “different” film scores by the versatile Georges Delerue.

DCM’s unswerving dedication to Georges Delerue and other fine French film composers has brought forth numerous musically attractive CDs, which can be found at www.disquescinemusique.com. These additions to their catalog will surely bestow similar pleasure and enlightenment. For myself, I’m intrigued by Delerue’s alter ego, and I’m always glad to hear further examples of his film persona...Each of the CDs, in fine sound and described in detail in their respective booklets, may be confidently recommended, in an order determined by your musical preferences."

FANFARE: Robert Schulslaper
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Works on This Recording

Pieces (4) for Clarinet and Piano by Georges Delerue
Performer:  Simon Aldrich (Clarinet), Sara Laimon (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 8 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Prelude and Dance for Oboe and Piano by Georges Delerue
Performer:  Sara Laimon (Piano), Lise Beauchamp (Oboe)
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 7 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 1 by Georges Delerue
Performer:  Jeanne de Chantal Marcil (Cello), Elaine Marcil (Violin), Marie-Josée Arpin (Violin),
Annie Parent (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Claudel-Canimex String Quartet,  Claudel String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 25 Minutes 20 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 2 by Georges Delerue
Performer:  Marie-Josée Arpin (Violin), Annie Parent (Viola), Elaine Marcil (Violin),
Jeanne de Chantal Marcil (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Claudel-Canimex String Quartet,  Claudel String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Length: 19 Minutes 24 Secs. 

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