05_mathieu_chaussonChausson - Concert; Mathieu - Trio & Quintette

Alain Lefèvre; David Lefèvre; Quatuor Alcan

Analekta AN 2 9286

Son of Montreal composer/pedagogue Rodolphe Mathieu, André (1929-1968) realized prodigious achievements as a child pianist and composer. Paris critic Émile Vuillermoz dubbed the ten-year-old Mathieu “The Canadian Mozart” following a piano recital of his original compositions.

The Piano Trio and Piano Quintet were written in his early 20s. The words “passionate” and “luxuriant” have stayed with me throughout my encounter with this music. Mathieu’s emotional range and the delicate interplay of instruments make the Trio absorbing listening. I especially enjoyed the slow sections, including some mystical proto-minimalism, as brought to life by pianist Alain Lefèvre, violinist Laura Andriani, and cellist David Ellis.

For the virtuosic Quintet the Alcan Quartet join Lefèvre in a powerful performance. In this exciting piece I hear Debussy and the Stravinsky of the Firebird. Would Mathieu’s career have progressed more effectively had he studied with Messiaen or Dutilleux? Regardless, we are now privileged to celebrate anew André Mathieu’s youthful musical genius.

Chausson’s similarly virtuosic Concert is described in Lucie Renard’s program notes as being “akin to a concerto for piano and violin” with string quartet; here violinist David Lefèvre joins the Quintet musicians. I love Chausson’s imaginative treatment of the stark three-note opening motif, which could have become clunky and maudlin in lesser hands. The assembled forces capture wonderfully the drama of the opening movement, antique glory of the Sicilienne, profundity of the slow movement, and intensity of the Finale on this outstanding disc.

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