Though indeed of Italian background, violinist Zino Francescatti was a Frenchman, born in Marseilles in 1902. His real name was René-Charles Francescatti. Both his parents played the violin, and his father René had been a student of Paganini.
An attractive and intelligently annotated set, devoted to Fauré’s chamber music with piano; the sole drawback concerns generally astringent sound quality in these 1969/70 recordings. Pianist Jean Hubeau features in all but one of these performances. An uncommonly perceptive, adroit, and lucidly compelling artist, his readings of the large-scale piano quintets, Opp. 89 and 115, are superb. He is partnered by the Quatuor Via Nova, who contribute their own serenely idiomatic account of Fauré’s three-movement string quartet, Op. 121. Hubeau’s impressively understated pianism adds distinction to refined performances of the piano quartets, Opp. 15 and 45, and the particularly fine D minor Trio, Op. 120.
In the 41 - year gap between these two sonatas Fauré, increasingly beset by deafness, withdrew into a more private, recondite world all his own. The Second, in consequence, has never enjoyed the popularity of the First—and in fact was conspicuous by its absence from the CD catalogue until this welcome new release. Collectors may recall that when Lydia Mordkovitch and Gerhard Oppitz recorded the First for Chandos they preferred to couple it with Richard Strauss's early Sonata in E flat. Comparison of the two teams in the A major Sonata, Op. 13, leaves me in no doubt that the newcomers would be my first choice. In saying that, I don't want to underestimate Mordkovitch. But with her fine-spun, silken tone and sensitively tapered phrasing she is far too often overpowered by Oppitz, who in the resonant acoustic of St Luke's Church, Chelsea, emerges not only too loud but also rather too often the victim of his own over-generously used right pedal. The Cologne venue accorded to Mintz and Bronfman is kinder: though anything but timid Bronfman preserves far greater textural clarity, and never allows his piano to outweigh Mintz's violin unless at the composer's own behest.(Gramophone, 1/1988)
The most brilliant of Belgian composer César Franck's compositions were written during the final decade of his life; the Symphonic Variations for piano and orchestra, the famous Violin Sonata, the D major String Quartet, and, perhaps most important, the Symphony in D minor are all the products of a single, remarkable five-year period. The Symphony, by no means an immediate success with critics or audiences, has nevertheless become so fused with the popular image of César Franck that it is nearly impossible to think of him without also thinking of this 40-minute orchestral juggernaut.
…A really amazing album, full of creative energy and impeccable performances by the Fauré Quartett (Erika Geldsetzer on violin, Sascha Frombling on viola, Konstantin Heidrich on cello & Dirk Mommertz on piano), featuring unpredictable chamber arrangements - by the likes of Peter Hinderthur, Wieland Reissman and producer Sven Helbig - of pop tunes. Gorgeous sound quality for a perfect album!
Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.