Vierne: Spleens et Détresses & Piano Quintet

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Composer: Louis Vierne
Artists: Mūza Rubackytė (piano), Anaïk Morel (mezzo soprano), Terpsycordes Quartet

Louis Vierne (1870-1937) is known as one of the finest French organists of his generation, and the composer of much music for his instrument such as the Carillon de Westminster and organ symphonies designed for the huge, Gothic instruments of which he was a master, but he also left a body of vocal and chamber music. This release – a unique coupling on record – comprises his two most substantial and ambitious works in those genres.

Born blind from cataracts, Vierne had limited sight restored to him as a boy, but in 1915 he began to suffer from glaucoma. At this period he composed the darkly melancholy song-cycle Spleens et détressses, on poems of Paul Verlaine. Although these settings capture the existential ennui implied by that word ‘spleen’, they are free from the anguished nihilism of previous settings of some of the same texts and any sense of real distress is muted. A real sense of tragic outpouring is reserved for the Piano Quintet, composed some months later after Vierne had received the news of the death of his son Jacques, killed in action. This three-movement work is grim music for grim times, but remarkably contemporary, even prophetic in sound, calling more to mind early Schoenberg than late Brahms, more harmonically knotted than even Roussel or Magnard. Vierne’s ambition, magnificently realised, was to produce ‘a quintet of vast proportions through every part of which shall flow the spirit of my tender feelings and the tragic destiny of my child. I shall bring this work to a conclusion with energy as fierce and ferocious as my grief is terrible.’

Tracklist

00:00:00 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: I. Dans l’interminable ennui de la plaine
00:03:55 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: II. Un grand sommeil noir
00:07:18 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: III. Spleen
00:09:44 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: IV. Promenade sentimentale
00:13:35 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: V. À une femme
00:15:57 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: VI. Sérénade
00:19:01 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: VII. Le son du cor
00:22:58 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: VIII. Sapho
00:24:59 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: IX. Les faux beaux jours
00:30:22 Louis Vierne: Spleens et détresses, Op. 38: X. Marine
00:32:15 Louis Vierne: Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 42: I. Poco lento – Moderato
00:43:49 Louis Vierne: Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 42: II. Larghetto sostenuto
00:56:22 Louis Vierne: Piano Quintet in C Minor, Op. 42: III. Maestoso – Allegro molto risoluto

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