I am a sucker for a good string quartet and I like to think that this is a very good string quartet. It’s certainly interesting for its era and, though not as ballsy as so many of the great quartets of the early 20th century, I think it would probably bear comparison with other notable quartets of the late 19th century, especially those by composers more established in chamber music. (It seems Franck did not compose a lot of it.)
I am, as always, perplexed by the selection – the piano quintet would make more sense next to the quartet, would it not? – but beggars can’t be choosers and I like both pieces too much to quibble.
String Quartet in D major (1890)
Having listened to it a few times now, this has got to be one of my favourite Romantic string quartets. Particularly the opening poco lento, which is perhaps my favourite opening to a Romantic string quartet ever. It’s been years since I aggressively listened to “classical” music and so it’s been years since I’ve listened to a lot of late Romantic string quartets but, in the moment, this is a masterpiece, and one I would heartily recommend to anyone interested in the form. And I don’t know how big a fan I am of Franck in general.
Sonata in A major for Violin and Piano (1886)
I listened to this again on another album and wrote:
I have heard the Franck sonata before but perhaps didn’t appreciate it enough as it was set next to his String Quartet, which I really like. It really appeals to me because it has a continuity (for lack of a better word) that you don’t necessarily hear in most violin sonatas. I feel like it’s one of those you really, really have to listen to a lot to fully grasp how wonderful it truly is.
I think this is definitely true because next to the String Quartet, which I adore, it just doesn’t move me. But, apparently, freed from that context, I quite liked it. Given that I am currently listening to it after said String Quartet, I’ll err towards my comments from back in whenever.