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Chausson: Concert; Mathieu: Trio Et Quintette

Mathieu / Chausson / Lefevre / Quatuor Alcan
Release Date: 03/22/2011 
Label:  Analekta   Catalog #: 29286   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  André MathieuErnest Chausson
Performer:  Laura AndrianiAlain LefèvreDavid EllisDavid Lefèvre
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

CHAUSSON Concerto for Violin, Piano and String Quartet. MATHIEU Trio for Violin, Cello, and Piano. Quintet for Piano and String Quartet Alain Lefèvre (pn); David Lefèvre (vn); Quatuor Alcan ANALEKTA AN 29286 (78:08)

Here is an extraordinary find. On the coattails of a beguiling, sensuously ripe account of Chausson’s Concert comes an introduction to André Mathieu (1929-1968), “the Canadian Mozart,” who, if not quite the Read more “genius” Lynn René Bayley imagines him (in her review of his Fourth Piano Concerto with Alain Lefèvre, Analekta 29281, Fanfare 32:4), is eminently worth knowing. An avid inheritor of post-Romanticism, Mathieu takes flight from the fin de siècle ambience Chausson epitomizes, the wind beneath his wings gusting from Ravel’s orchestral works, for Mathieu is a master at enticing quasi-orchestral sonorities from modest forces to project one amazing moment of blazing shimmer after another. One is wowed rather than moved, and brought up short as the cascading movements—two each—of the Trio and Quintet flare with an empurpled eloquence that fails to develop, to end abruptly, leaving one with the philosopher’s question, “What has been concluded that we may conclude about it?” Of an admired Mozart piece Busoni noted, “Even Mozart had to sweat to achieve this.” Mathieu was unwilling to sweat, relying instead on an amazing facility—visible and audible in YouTube video clips of him at the piano—to make a merely facile music. If ultimately unsatisfying, it’s astounding as it plays.

In the Lefèvres and the Alcan Quartet, Mathieu has found his ideal interpreters. Hearing the glowing ne plus ultra warmth visited upon Chausson’s Concerto by these performers, one grasps that the stunning brilliance of the Mathieu works owes much to their divination-winged virtuosity.

And while we’re about the Chausson, James A. Altena’s wonderstruck rave over a performance of the concerto by Philippe Bianconi, Régis Pasquier, and the Quatuor Parisii (Saphir LVC 1092, Fanfare 34: 5) prompted a dash to hear it, complicated by the happenstance that Saphir has no domestic distributor and the album was to be found neither on Amazon nor ArkivMusic. “Have you ever had the experience where, upon listening to a track on a CD, at its end you quietly hit the pause button because what you had just heard was so indescribably beautiful that you needed silence so as not to break the magic spell? That is what happened to me upon hearing the first movement of the Concerto on this CD—and the remainder of the performance is of equal caliber… After hearing this recording I tried to canvas [sic] as many alternatives as possible; while there are other fine recordings”—none specified or compared—“this rendition is in a class by itself and is my unqualified first choice for this work.” Eventually, a jobber in Bellevue, Washington—CD Euroexpress—after several weeks’ delay, supplied the item at $27, plus $3.50 shipping. Imagine my chagrin on encountering a reading of such antiseptic punctilio that I cannot hear it without a vision of the performers in bleached surgical scrubs slicing and dicing. From such soporific parsing one might take dictation. Recessed sound, moreover, lends the proceedings a coolly distant, expressively muted mien. The notes are there: their spirit has fled. In over 30 years of reviewing I cannot recall a duller or more dispiriting account of the concerto.

By contrast, Analekta’s capture is immediate, detailed, and warm. In a lucid moment I’ll write this into the Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, highest recommendation.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Trio, for violin, cello & piano by André Mathieu
Performer:  Laura Andriani (Violin), Alain Lefèvre (Piano), David Ellis (Cello)
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 07/2010 
Venue:  Church of Saint-Benoît de Mirabel 
Length: 16 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Quintet for piano and string quartet by André Mathieu
Performer:  Alain Lefèvre (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Date of Recording: 07/2010 
Venue:  Church of Saint-Benoît de Mirabel 
Length: 17 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Concert for Piano, Violin and String Quartet in D major, Op. 21 by Ernest Chausson
Performer:  Alain Lefèvre (Piano), David Lefèvre (Violin)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889-1891; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2010 
Venue:  Church of Saint-Benoît de Mirabel 
Length: 43 Minutes 24 Secs. 

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