Jennifer Pike / Tom Poster / Doric String Quartet CHAUSSON Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet - String Quartet
Chausson’s premature death in 1899 in a cycling accident left his String Quartet unfinished. Two movements were complete, with a third needing the helping hand of Vincent d’Indy. It was clearly intended as a four-movement work and is conceived on a grand scale. The Doric make the best possible case for the piece, even where it’s less than polished. This is very much a product of its time, sitting on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries, with all the unease that that suggests; it has its hints of Wagner but also echoes of Debussy. The third movement is the weakest, without a particularly pronounced character, which is ironically not helped by d’Indy’s very definite ending, which rounds it off as if it were a true finale rather than the penultimate movement.
The Concert is another matter, however. Chausson’s musical inventiveness amply fills its statuesque dimensions and it never outstays its welcome. There are plenty of opportunities for Jennifer Pike to display her sinuous, tender tone, while Tom Poster reminds us yet again why he’s so highly regarded as a chamber musician: sample from around 4'10" in the finale, where he makes light and highly nuanced work of the filigree that forms a shadowy backdrop to the strings. In some performances it can feel as if the quartet is too small a force to convey the grandeur of Chausson’s vision, but not here, with the Doric revelling in the luxuriant textures. Though I retain a soft spot for the note of disquiet that Graffin brings to the Grave in his recording with the Chilingirian, their reading as a whole doesn’t have the same cumulative impact as the Doric et al. And there’s no contest in the finale, which in the new version has a thrilling one-in-a-bar propulsion. A real front-runner for the Concert, and the most convincing of advocates for the more problematic String Quartet. (Harriet Smith / Gramophone)