Fernand de La Tombelle
String Quartet in E Major, Op.36
The winner of the 1896 prestigious Chartier Prize for an outstanding chamber music composition was Fernand de La Tombelle's String Quartet in E Major, Op.36. Dedicated to his friend and colleague Vincent d'Indy, the quartet has four movements. It begins with a Largo introduction, the theme to which is calm and cheerful. Almost imperceptibly, the largo fades away into an Allegro in e minor. However, it reappears at the end of the movement a.la Cesar Franck. Next comes an Allegretto assai scherzando in which two rhythmic themes alternate, vying for attention. The third movement, Adagio con molto espressione, is lyrical and meditative in mood, with several dramatic climaxes and much depth of feeling. In the finale, Allegro con brio, the minor and major modes struggle for dominance, with an upbeat theme in the major eventually winning out.
Fernand de La Tombelle (1854-1928) was born in Paris and studied piano with his mother who had been a student of Liszt and Thalberg. He also studied organ with the famous French organ virtuoso Alexandre Guilmant. .At the Paris Conservatory he studied composition with Theodore Dubois and organ with Guilmant. Subsequently, he became a well-known organist in Paris. He was, along with Vincent d’Indy, Guilmant and Charles Bordes, one of the founders of the Schola Cantorum, France’s other great conservatory. He taught there for many years. He wrote in most genres. In addition to this string quartet he also composed a piano trio.
Like so many other fine works deserving performance this excellent quartet disappeared and went out of print long ago. We are pleased to reintroduce a superb work from the late French Romantic era. It deserves a place in the concert hall and amateurs will also find it a wonderful work to play.