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“Salle Gaveau: Flonzaley Quartet,” Le Monde Musical 32, nos. 19 and 20 (October 1921): 317 (complete)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2020

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Summary

Concert Reviewed

(asterisk indicates premiere)

October 19, 1921 (Salle Gaveau)

Quartet, D major, op. 64, no. 5, Joseph Haydn

Quartet, E-flat major, op. 22, no. 1, George Enescu

Quartet, D major, op. 18, no. 3, Ludwig van Beethoven

Concertino, Igor Stravinsky*

In general, leading artists devote themselves almost exclusively to works whose reputation matches their own, or better yet, exceeds it. Moreover, many reasons justify this attitude: the reserve, the mistrust of the audience in relation to what is not already ranked; its manifest wish to “evaluate” performers through comparison, which excludes almost all variety in programming; and finally, the artists’ difficulty in reviewing enough music to take on the responsibility of making a choice on which their authority confers a real importance with respect to listeners. But because of this, new works risk waiting a very long time before taking the place that they deserve. This is to say how much respect is due for the incessant effort of the Flonzaley Quartet, since they devote months to working with the same passion on the renowned masterwork that ensures them a brilliant success as they do on the still-unknown pages that are hardly listened to, if they are not condemned without even taking the trouble to understand them. It is necessary to see with what conviction each of these four artists speaks of the work that he would like to render as beloved by others as he loves it himself, and with what faith he champions it.

Their recent concert was particularly meaningful in this respect. Haydn, then a first performance of George Enescu. Beethoven, then a first performance of Stravinsky. I think that one could not better fulfil the Quartet's wish than by forgetting to speak of them in order to speak only of these works, which they came to acquaint us with. But the quality of their performance does not permit such a silence. In fact, one could not achieve a more perfectly coherent ensemble or have a richer sonorous palette. The performance of Haydn's Quartet was imbued with that charming courtliness that is at once a repose, a joy, and a model. Can one, in fact, imagine a more perfect adaptation of means to an end, and does not the old Master remain one of those who best understood the spirit of that elegant and witty chamber music that represents an entire epoch?

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Chapter
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Nadia Boulanger
Thoughts on Music
, pp. 156 - 158
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2020

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