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Chausson: Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, Opus 21

Two Piano Repertoire:

Rachmaninoff: Waltz from Suite #2, Opus 17

Brahms: Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn, Opus 56b

Schumann: Andante and Variations, Opus 46

Ravel: La Valse

One of the most provocative of all “what if?” musical speculations concerns the effect on the subsequent development of French music had Ernest Chausson been as accomplished a bicyclist as he was a composer. His premature death — from injuries sustained when he rode his bicycle into a brick wall in 1899 — robbed French music of perhaps the most distinctive and original voice it had produced between Hector Berlioz and Claude Debussy.

The Poeme for Violin and Orchestra is usually regarded as Chausson’s masterpiece: a tantalizing, heart-breaking suggestion of what might have been. “I can’t see my way to thinking of a concerto, which is a huge undertaking and devilishly difficult to write,” the modest composer wrote to his friend.

The closest Chausson ever came to writing a full-fledged concerto was the Concert for Violin, Piano and String Quartet, composed in 1891. Cast in three movements, the Concert is a deliberate evocation of the style and procedures of the 18th century concerto grosso, with the string quartet acting as the ripieno to the violin-piano concertino.

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