String Quartet No.1 in g minor
Joseph-Guy Ropartz (1864-1955) was born in Guingamp, Côtes-d'Armor in the French province of Brittany. He studied composition at the Paris Conservatory with Théodore Dubois and Jules Massenet, and organ with César Franck. He enjoyed a long career as both a teacher and a conductor. Ropartz was associated with the Breton cultural renaissance of the era, setting to music the words of several Breton writers. His musical style was influenced by Claude Debussy and Cesar Franck. However he identified himself as a Celtic Breton rather than a Frenchman. He wrote in most genres and devoted considerable time to chamber music penning six string quartets.
String Quartet No.1 was composed sometime around 1893. It is a massive and very interesting work, combining as it does the systematic use of chromaticism with remote modulations and Breton melody. The opening movement is divided into two section. The first begins with a lengthy, slow (Lent) introduction. The cello presents a sad outcry quickly taken up by the others. (our sound-bite only presents a few seconds of this) The main part of the movement, Modérément animé, has a restless and searching quality, characterized by its upward climbing chromatic passages that serve to build dramatic tension. At its height, a second, gentler and more lyrical subject appears. The second movement, Vif, serves as a scherzo. Based on a Breton folk melody, it is a nervous, edgy dance. The middle section is slower and exotic. The slow movement, Assez lent, starts off sounding mystical but quickly changes into a more straight forward romantic melody, albeit replete with chromatic chordal progressions. As a dramatic climax is built, the mysticism returns. The finale, Vif et animé, again has a Breton folk melody for its main theme. It sound somewhat like a sea shanty.
This is a very original and engaging work which should be of interest to both professionals and amateurs. Out of print for many years, it is with pleasure that we reintroduce it.
Parts & Score: $36.95