String Quartet in D Major
Writing about César Franck's String Quartet in D Major in his Handbook for String Quartet Players, the well-known chamber music expert Wilhelm Altmann has this to say about the work:
"César Franck, who even in the last years of his life was searching for new ways of expression, in the last year of his life (1890) composed a string quartet in which he indeed found many new noteworthy things. It is quite clear from the thematic material and the working out that this quartet shares common ground with Beethoven who also sought new paths and an ever expanding horizon. The Quartet begins with a long Poco lento introduction in which the four bar main theme is set forth in solemn, mysterious fashion and eventually leads to an Allegro in which we not only encounter the main theme but a charming second theme both of which are juxtaposed throughout the movement. A quite original, ghostly sounding Scherzo, which is played muted, comes next. In some respects the music recalls both Berlioz and Schumann. A broad, noble melody serves as the main theme of the third movement, Larghetto, which again, in some ways recalls Schumann, in particular his third quartet. In the big Finale, the composer immediately recalls the themes of the previous movements, much as Beethoven did in his 9th Symphony. The movement is very well put together in this respect, however, new ideas are also brought to the forefront. The conclusion brings to mind the technique Schumann used in his first quartet wherein the sweet theme is interrupted by explosions of passion."—–Wilhelm Altmann writing in his Handbook for String Quartet Players.
César Franck, even today, is remembered not only as the father of modern French music, but also for his Symphony in d minor. His chamber music, unfortunately, has in modern times been unjustly shoved to the side and forgotten. Franck (1822-1890) was, during his lifetime also known as one of the best organists in the world. He was also a piano virtuoso and in later life as a professor at the Paris Conservatory became an important teacher. Among his many students were Vincent d'Indy and Ernest Chausson.
The time was, certainly up until the 1950's, that this work was in the standard repertoire and could be heard outside of France and Belgium with some regularity. Not now. A pity because as Altmann writes it is quite original sounding, dramatic, highly powerful and without doubt quite captivating.
Parts & Score $32.95