Pierné’s music is unmistakably French – so much so that one could easily believe it to be unmistakably Massenet, under whom he studied. His other teacher was César Franck, whom he succeeded as organist of Paris’s Sainte-Clotilde, eventually following Édouard Colonne as director of the Colonne orchestra. He composed right across the spectrum, and his ballet Cydalise et le Chèvre-pied, is a glorious adventure in French orchestral music, containing his greatest ‘hit’, The Entry of the Little Fauns.
Dedicated to Fauré, the beautiful Piano Quintet was written in 1919. It begins ruminatively, gathering strength as it goes, the strenuous nature of the music leading into a vigorous middle section before closing with a quieter ending. The beguiling second movement, in the rhythm of a Zorzico, a Basque folk dance complete with five beats to the bar, is graceful and makes a good contrast to the first movement. It drifts amiably into a charming development section, leading away from the strictness of the Zorzico.
“Fine performances of both works provide a refreshing change from the standard classics”
Picking up from the dance, the last movement brings us to a rattlingly good agitato. Here we can hear Debussy coming through the mists. Eventful piano...