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Lekeu: Trio et Quatuor avec piano

Magazine Classica
1 avril 2013

Francis Ponge intitula un de ses recueils La Rage de l'expression. On pourrait reprendre ce titre pour le Trio et le Quatuor avec piano de Lekeu. Il distend les formes au maximum, son chromatisme constant rend la tonalité instable, surout dans les moments les plus intensément expressifs, comme pour exprimer des états psychologiques extrêmes. On lui accordera cependant que ce discours souvent surchargé ne procède pas d'un vain goût formaliste mais d'une grande sincérité. Le Trio en ut mineur (1890-1891) est immense et parfois longuet, incontestablement marqué par l'influence scholiste, et si le Quatuor (1892) est plus concis, c'est qu'il est resté inachevé et ne comporte que deux mouvements, dont un sublime Lent et passionné, qui compte parmi ce que Lekeu a composé de plus réussi. Les deux oeuvres ont déjà connu plusieurs enregistrements, essentiellement en Belgique. Le Trio Spiller avait enregistré le même programme (Arts) il y a une quinzaine d'années. Celui-ci nous vient du Canada où le Trio Hochelaga s'est fait honorablement connaître en révélant des raretés françauses, du côté de chez Migot, Dubois, Ropartz ou Rhené-Baton. La principale difficulté, devant de telles partitions, est de «tenir la longueur» sans laisser retomber la tension, de relancer sans cesse le discours et de clarifier une polyphonie toujours dense. C'est peu dire que le Trio Hochelaga, augmenté de Teng Li dans le Quatuor y parvient. Avec en plus, surtout dans les mouvements lents, un contrôle parfait des irisations brumeuses chères à Lekeu.
Jacques Bonnaure - Classica

BBC Music Magazine
1 décembre 2012


Lekeu's music is a post-Wagnerian ferment of shifting passions. These chamber works feel slightly unfocused, yet hint he could have had a strong voice, had he lived beyond 24. Engaged performances

Jessica Duchen - BBC Music Magazine

Radio-Canada • Première chaîne
21 août 2012

... C'est beau, c'est poignant. Le trio est très en forme, il joue très bien. Mais mentionnons le jeu d'Anne Robert, le phrasé qu'elle propose est tellement chaleureux. Une femme d'intensité qui a des choses à raconter avec son instrument. C'est plein d'émotions.

Frédéric Lambert et T'Cha Dunlevy - Médium Large 

8 août 2012

 There’s no doubt that these two works, played with such aching and tender expression by the Hochelaga Trio, have been an epiphany for me. Any composer capable of writing music like this has to be touched by genius. To be sure, Lekeu’s genius was not perfect. It was flawed, I believe, by a lack of self-discipline that led to indulging in too much of a good thing. But that’s a common sin of youth, and he was, after all, only a day past his 24th birthday when he died. Had he lived to a normal age, he would surely have learned, as Brahms did, “to let the superfluous notes slip under the table.” One can hardly say that what Lekeu left us in his short life are crumbs. Thanks to his penchant for prolixity, he left us large loaves of bread, and the two on this disc are simply too mouthwatering to leave unconsumed. This goes straight to my 2012 Want List and is urgently recommended.

Jerry Dubins - Fanfare

Globe and Mail
27 juillet 2012


The excellent Montreal ensemble Trio Hochelaga makes a mission of rediscovering music that has slipped through the cracks, and these two pieces by Belgian-born composer Guillaume Lekeu are wonderful finds. Lekeu had little opportunity to live up to the extraordinary promise of his 1890 Piano Trio in C minor: He was dead, of typhoid fever, a few years later at the age of 24. In Paris, Lekeu had studied with both César Franck and Vincent d’Indy, and their influence is clearly audible in the dense textures, chromatic harmonies and concentrated emotional energy of his music (and, less happily, in an overdependence on fugues and recurring themes in the trio). But these pieces are neither copies nor curiosities. From the trio’s arresting introduction to the quartet’s long, lyrical finale, this is music well worth programming.

Elissa Poole - The Globe and Mail

23 juillet 2012

Belgian composer Guillaume Lekeu’s story is a sad one. A promising talent who was lauded by Paul Dukas and taught by César Franck and Vincent d’Indy, Lekeu died of typhoid fever when he was only twenty-four. Lekeu excelled in chamber music and two of his works are featured on this recording by Trio Hochelaga and guest violist Teng Li.

Like many in the Franck-d’Indy circle, Beethoven and Wagner were also influences on Lekeu. Beethoven’s storminess and Wagner’s harmonies are certainly present in the intense opening movement of Lekeu’s Piano Trio in C minor. A sweeter, calmer (mostly) slow movement provides opportunity to luxuriate in Trio Hochelaga’s tonal warmth. Cyclical in form, the Scherzo is noteworthy for an especially furious fugal passage that gives the ensemble an opportunity to strut their technical prowess with some truly thrilling playing. The final movement is something of a mixed bag of ideas, some melancholy and others flirting with the bucolic.

Lekeu was able to complete the first movement and most of the second (D’Indy wrote six measures of the latter) of his unfinished Quartet for Piano and Strings in B minor. This is certainly a work that begs the “what if he had lived longer?” question. Its turbulent heart gushes with tempest-tossed melody that goes somewhere beyond the ultra-Romantic. This is a glimpse of the pure Lekeu with scant reference to Beethoven, Franck, Wagner or anyone else being made.

Trio Hochelaga has made some excellent recordings of lesser-known French repertoire (Dubois, Ropartz and Pierne) and their advocacy of Lekeu deserves the highest praise. The ensemble’s technical skills are evident in every phrase, but they also play with a unified heart and soul. The usual superb engineering by Atma Classique chief Johanne Goyette makes this a flat-out dazzler. I didn’t know Lekeu’s music before I heard this recording, now I want to dig deeper.

Craig Zeichner - Ariama.com

Musical Toronto
17 juillet 2012

This chamber music outing is a pleasure, but no summer picnic as Toronto Symphony Orchestra principal viola joins Montreal’s Trio Hochelaga to explore two works by nearly forgotten Belgian pianist Guillaume Lekeu, who died at age 24 of typhoid fever, in 1894.

These capable musicians make a convincing case for this young composer’s forays into late-Romantic complexity.

Both pieces, a four-movement Piano Trio from when he was 20 and two movements from an unfinished Piano Quartet, are the late-Victorian era’s equivalent of emo, vibrating with agony and angst. Even the slow movements provide little respite from the musical clenched fists and furrowed brows.

Fortunately, the pain comes in the form of beautifully thought-out structures, of deftly sketched musical ideas passed freely between each instrument. Li, violinist Anne Robert, cellist Paul Marleyn and pianist Stéphane Lemelin deliver broad-shouldered, red-blooded performances that crackle with energy and life, making for mighty fine rainy-day listening.

John Terauds - Musical Toronto

Radio-Canada - Première Chaîne
4 juillet 2012

 Quelle belle découverte que voici. Il y a dans la musique de Lekeu une impétuosité, une fougue juvénile, mais aussi une très grande maturité qui ne manquera pas de surprendre parce que certains passages peuvent autant évoquer Schubert que Beethoven. Une très très belle parution à signaler chez ATMA Classique.

Erich Langlois - Estrie Express