Notes and Editorial Reviews
Talk about the difference between night and day! Reynaldo Hahn's Piano Quintet is all charm, wit, and elegance, with attractively memorable tunes and a deliciously "grazioso" finale. Louis Vierne's, on the other hand, reflects the composer's grief at the loss of his 17-year-old son Jacques, killed in action during World War I. The opening movement carries tormented chromaticism near the point of tonal breakdown, while the huge central Larghetto rises to a climax of gut-wrenching impact. An impressively trenchant and forceful (if not exactly cheerful) finale concludes a deeply expressive, imposing masterpiece whose comparative neglect is understandable, if unfortunate.
Stephen Coombs and the Chilingirian
Quartet meet both works head on, tossing off Hahn's jeu d'esprit with insouciance, and keeping Vierne's heavy textures transparent as well as rhythmically purposeful. They also display a gratifyingly wide dynamic range, critical to the overwhelming emotional impact of the slow movement of the Vierne. Hyperion's sonics maintain the high standards of the house, but the notes, which continually compare Vierne to Frank Bridge, smack of that obnoxious British provincialism that seeks ex post facto significance for British music by seeing the rest of the world as a mere reflection of it. Vierne's work is not validated one way or another by any similarities to Bridge's, whether intentional or coincidental. This sort of comparison obscures, rather than illuminates, the work of both composers and in the end serves neither.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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