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ROPARTZ, RHENÉ-BATON: Trios avec piano

BBC Magazine
1 juin 2008

PERFORMANCE ****
SOUND ****

The young Ropartz, like the young Chausson, abandoned Massenet's composition classf or Franck's. Awise move? It must have seemed so at the time, Massenet's unchallenging musical language and suave manners understandably not being to everyone's taste.But it's the unremitting earnestness that is so hard to take in quantity (and Ropartz's three-movement Trio lasts nearly 37 minutes). Add to this the absence of any really striking melodic material, the prevalence of unreconstructed Franckian harmonies and the limited scope of the textures, and the result is, for this reviewer at least, a hard slog.

Other Ropartz works make use of folk songs from his native Brittany. But here it is Rhené-Baton, a Breton only by adoption, who turns to this resource, thereby guaranteeing a minimum of melodic interest. Again, textural variety is a weak point, with too many passages for the strings in octaves, but the piece has its charms, without exciting any 'Hats off!' exclamations. Balance and intonation are both good.

Roger Nichols - BBC Magazine