Author Topic: Chausson's Château  (Read 1737 times)

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Offline Trout

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Chausson's Château
« on: November 26, 2013, 09:07:24 PM »
Amédée-Ernest Chausson (1855-1899) was one of those perfectionistic composers: leaving behind only a few works (39 opuses), but of pretty consistent high quality. At the Paris Conservatoire, he studied mainly with Massenet and Franck, the latter of which was a big influence on his works as well as Wagner. He composed right up until his accidental death, which was pretty unusual as far as deaths go: riding a bicycle into a brick wall.

Musically, while Chausson was not among the forefront of progressive composers in his day, his music bridges the styles of lush Romanticism and the developing, more mystic Impressionism of Debussy. He composed in many different genres as his works include symphonic poems, a symphony, an opera (Le roi Arthus), a number of chamber and piano works, and various songs and song cycles. While he did not go very deep into any genre, his contributions to each are fairly significant.

Personally, I enjoy much of his oeuvre from the opus 3 Piano Trio to the Poème de l'amour et de la mer and the String Quartet he was working on till he died. I plan on re-listening to some of his works that did not really captivate me on first listening, such as the Symphony.

So, I think you guys know the drill now. Thoughts? Favorite/least favorite works? Recordings? I'd be interested to hear your opinions.

I apologize if this is a repeat thread, but I could not find one on the current forum. There was one on the old forum, though:,4923.0.

List of Chausson's works:

More information about Chausson:


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Re: Chausson's Château
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2013, 09:44:47 PM »
Thanks for starting this thread! Chausson was a very fine composer and it is indeed a shame he died so young. His Symphony in B-flat is a rather Franckian score (like the Dukas symphony), but Chausson's lyrical and coloristic talents nicely balance Franckian chromaticism and drama in this work. I have great admiration for his orchestral song cycle Poemes de l'amour et de la mer, which is nearly impressionistic in its sensuousity and lush textures. The oddly-named and instrumented Concerto for piano, violin, and string quartet stands in the great line of French chamber music and has an orchestral "bigness" to it. This Double Decca recording is superb:

Offline mjwal

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Re: Chausson's Château
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2013, 09:17:01 AM »
I consider Chausson's greatest works to be vocal and chamber music - probably not an exceptionable opinion. I have not been overly taken by recordings made in the stereo era, but there are many I do not know. My favourite chamber music pieces are the Piano Quartet* and the Concert for Violin, piano and string quartet. I have various older recordings of the latter, of which the Francescatti/Casadesus/Guilet Qt and the Kaufman/Balsam/Pascal Qt are both superb, the Thibaud/Cortot being supremely moving with a stodgily recorded string quartet. I otherwise have the Muir Qt version in stereo, very fine but not overwhelming and OOP. Perhaps someone has a more recent recommendation? There is also one online with Jeremy Denk and the Jupiter Qt, which I downloaded from the Isabella Gardner Museum (legal and free), a good recording. Chausson's greatest vocal/orchestral music is the Poème de L'amour et de la mer. I regard the Baker (2 - the better is with Svetlanov) or Norman performances as lacking in that je ne sais quoi, French style in phrasing and diction; the old Maggie Teyte is unfortunately too dimly accompanied by the orchestra and her voice is perhaps not full and dark enough for this, so that the most sensuous and moving recording for me is that with Irma Kolassi with de Froment and the LPO. Where Teyte really excels is in the mélodie "Chanson perpétuelle" for soprano, string quartet and piano (Blech Qt and Gerald Moore) - this is classic singing. Both of these are on YouTube for you to sample, I have them on flac and wav files.
The Symphony always fails to grip me; Le Roi Arthus tends to plod along in a sub-Wagnerian manner most of the time - opera was not his bag. I do remember his incidental music for La tempête as being charming, but not much more - one of my seldom played CDs.
*I do have that Richards Qt version of the Piano Quartet on my hard disc and two others on LP (not at hand) from which I learned the piece, but I would really be interested in a refulgent, passionate new recording of this great work.
The Violin's Obstinacy

It needs to return to this one note,
not a tune and not a key
but the sound of self it must depart from,
a journey lengthily to go
in a vein it knows will cripple it.
Peter Porter