For the first concert of a week-end dedicated to French chamber music, the Ébène Quartet performs works by Fauré and Debussy. It is accompanied by the pianist Eric Le Sage and joined by the clarinettist Paul Mayer and the cellist François Salque.
Composers of the golden age of French chamber music are highlighted during a whole week-end. Indeed, Fauré, Debussy, Franck, Ravel and other great composers widely contributed to renew the repertoire. Through these small instrumental groups, some of them seemed to find a new way to express a musical interiority and pure motives, contrasting with the musical power of symphonic works.
The concert begins with Gabriel Fauré's Piano, Clarinet and Cello Trio in D Minor, the only trio he composed. When he composed it (between 1922 and 1923), it was unusual to associate a piano, a clarinet and a cello. The "ideal French piano aesthetics and clarity" (Die Zeit) that characterize Eric Le Sage's performance, the expressiveness of Paul Meyer's clarinet and François Salque's cello enhance the unique sweetness in Fauré's chamber music.
The Cello and Piano Sonata No. 1 in D Minor composed by Debussy in 1915 was part of a project in which Debussy wanted to compose six French sonatas. He could not end this project before his death but left us three sonatas. Then in the First Rhapsody for Clarinet composed by Debussy, who loved the clarinet's "romantic sweetness", the musical motives seem to be spread on a palette with puzzling or impressionist colours, that mostly characterize the composer's style.
The concert ends with one of the greatest works of French chamber music, with the Piano and Strings Quintet in C Minor composed by Fauré in almost two years. In 1921, its premiere was a success. The expressiveness of this work is in particular brightly developed by the importance given to the piano.