GOUE: Troisieme Quatour; Sonate pour violon et piano – Quatour Loewenguth/Alfred Loewenguth, violin/Francoise Doreau, piano
Azur Classical AZC 081, 45:27 mono [Distrib. by recitalmedia.com] ****:
Emile Goue (1904-1946) studied with Charles Koechlin and received considerable support from Albert Roussel. From having auditioned his Third Quartet (1945), I discern a post-Romantic voice heavily indebted to the formalism of Franck and D‘Indy, with modal inclinations and strong, melodic aspirations. It seems Goue suffered as a prisoner of war from 1940-1945, and his imprisonment caused an illness from which he never recovered. The intensity of his expressive Third Quartet (recorded 1956) suggests that he is the French counterpart to Kurtag, Ligeti, Martinu, and Wiener. The Loewenguth Quartet (estab. 1929) made Goue their mission after 1938, these (from a set of three discs) the first recordings of his output. The disc itself is a non-commercial enterprise, offered by The Friends of Chamber Music and The Friends of Emile Goue.
The Third Quartet, penned in captivity, is through-composed, the original, gloomy kernel’s saturating all subsequent movement. Much sounds like Faure spliced to Franz Kafka, dark, introspective, filled with gentle but persistent shadows. The second movement achieves a long, sustained aria, even identifying itself in E-flat for a tender moment. The last movement scours us with harsh and strident harmonies that might have come from Bartok and his musical kin. Expressive, haunted, it plods forward, weary but mysterious, the cello (Pierre Basseux) plunging some eerie depths. Goue urges counterpoint upon us, the funereal austerity often looking to the dominant, which is the composer’s calling card. The last minute of music achieves an apotheosis close to his and Bartok’s idol, Beethoven. The key (B-sharp?) delivers us a nervous apotheosis, salvation with strings attached, I daresay.
The Violin Sonata (1941) had its birth in the German prison-camp, Oflag XB at Nienburg/Weser. This piece‘s recording, too, is a product of the 1956 Festival International Albert-Roussel. The Violin Sonata is in three movements, the opening Anime rather demanding that the solo violin climb along the fingerboard in small steps, the chromatic line askew, angular, and expressive in the manner of jaded Ravel or Koechlin. Certainly the Franck and Debussy sonatas prove an influence, but Goue’s style transcends the epigone. His is a lyrically disturbing, personal sound. The second movement is marked Mort d’un autre (The Death of Another), an insistent, even cruel, funeral dirge worthy of Elie Wiesel. Goue varies the theme’s sonority but not its essential character. Loewenguth makes some tender points; and Doreau, a pupil of Marguerite long, supports him artfully. Two themes dominate the last movement, and Goue combines and opposes them in sometimes jazzy, Bartokian harmony, the sun’s trying to peep through chthonian, volcanic vapors. Though I am not convinced the tension has subsided, at least Dedaelus has not been consumed by the death of his flighty son.