Thursday, April 09, 2015

Pierné / Vierne Piano Quintets -- A Natural Pairing

The pairing of these two French piano quintets is a logical one. Gabriel Pierné studied with Gabriel Fauré, and Louis Vierne audited his courses as a teenager (Vierne was to formally study with Fauré but Fauré died shortly after Vierne was enrolled). And superficially, both quintets share similarities with Fauré's style.

 Both works share a smoothness of texture and the gentle lyricism of fin du siècle compositions. Both works are about the same length, and both have a three-movement structure.

There are subtle differences between the two but overall the disc seems to deliver one 70+ minute listening session of remarkable consistency rather than two discrete works. (That's not a complaint)

The Quatuor Arthur-Leblanc and pianist Stéphane Lemelin have a seamless ensemble sound that's critical for this music. To me the recording had a slightly distant sound. It softened the sound of the strings, which further enhanced the warmth of the ensemble.

Gabriel Pierné: Quintet for piano and strings, Op. 41
Louis Vierne: Quintet in A minor for piano and strings, Op. 42
Quatour Arthur-Lebalnc; Stéphane Lemelin, piano
Atma ACD2 2384

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