Musée du Louvre: Henri Loyette, president director; Monique Devaux, artistic director for the concerts.
In 1886, Ernest Chausson was elected as Secretary of the National Music Society ( Société Nationale de Musique) where he joined his friend Vincent d'Indy and his mentor César Franck, who all wished to add foreign works to the N.M.S. It is in this context that Chausson composed the Concert for piano, violin, string quartet between 1889 and 1890. Dedicated to Eugène Ysaÿe, the Concert that is sometimes wrongly referred to as the Sextuor, is structured with four movements. These movements weren't composed successively by Chausson but rearranged and assembled later on. The very firm overture, made of passionate impulses and melancholic temptations, sets the tone for the first movement. Follow two chiaroscuro atmospheres: the beautiful Sicilian, light and luminous, and the Grave movement, a somber and tormented complaint. Closing the piece, the Finale carries us back to the light with its resolution in D Major. The piece was premiered in Brussels in March 1892, then in Paris on April 23rd and immediately received great acclaim.
Between 1902 and 1903, while Ravel was recovering from his failed attempts at the Prix de Rome, he wrote the Quartet in F Major and dedicated it to his "dear" mentor, Gabriel Fauré. However the one existing through this piece is not Fauré but Debussy who profoundly affected the young Ravel with his String quartet in G Minor written ten years earlier. This influence is palpable so much so that a parallel between the composers is well-noted and Romain Rolland even brands Ravel for being "more 'debussyste' than Debussy."
This piece can be considered to be one of the manifestations of Ravel's artistic maturity. He himself claims nothing else some years later: " My quartet in F is the fruit of a musical construction imperfectly brought to life but much more clearly than in my previous compositions. "
The quartet's structure lies upon on a system of oppositions and recollections. Ravel inserts the particularly blatant oppositions of the first movements in between long phrases which are either soft or lyrical, high pitched, springing or melodious. He does so by either confronting or intertwining them. The recollections are present in the last two movements which call for the Allegro moderato, and in the forth movement, "Vif et agité, which ends by sending back to the forth movement thus creating an eternal recurrence. When Ravel attempted to rewrite this finale in 1910, Debussy beseeched him no to: "By the gods' names, of Music and of mine, please do not touch anything you have written for this quartet!"
© Auditorium du Louvre 2011