The Strad Issue: January 2012
Description: Performances that tap the nostalgic element in Fauré’s music
Musicians: London Bridge Ensemble, Matthew Truscott (violin) Graham Mitchell (double bass)
The London Bridge Ensemble’s passionate first movement of Fauré’s Second Piano Quintet, with its moments of sad reflectiveness, sets the scene for a performance where pliable tempos recapture the nostalgia of a composer in the autumn of his life. The mood momentarily gives way to playfulness in the scherzo, only to return in the Andante where the sadness seems to recall things that might have been. In this account those feelings still underline the busy final Allegro molto.
At times the forwardly placed piano tends to mask the inner details we hear in the more ideally balanced Piano Trio. In this latter work, Kate Gould’s radiant cello sings with lyrical fervour in the outer movements, and combines well with violinist Benjamin Nabarro’s fast vibrato in their smooth and refined account of the central Andantino. Matthew Truscott is the additional violinist in the Quintet, and in both works the technical aspects of the playing are immaculate.
The disc is completed by Fauré’s setting of nine Verlaine poems, La bonne chanson, in his later version with string quartet and piano. Maybe the baritone of the London Bridge Ensemble’s resident singer Ivan Ludlow is too intrinsically British, but the performance has both tenderness and affection. Overall, the disc has a pleasing sound quality.