Quatuor Ysaÿe / Pascal Rogé

Franck: String Quartet; Piano Quintet; Sonata for piano and violin

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If you are only ever going to have one recording of each of the three major chamber works by César Franck -- the String Quartet, the Violin Sonata, and the Piano Quintet -- these recordings by the Quatuor Ysaÿe with pianist Pascal Rogé are the ones to have. Named for the violinist who premiered all three works, the Quatuor Ysaÿe is arguably the finest of the current crop of French quartets, and their purity, intensity, sensuality, and ensemble virtuosity makes them the ideal interpreters of Franck's music, especially when joined by the passionate yet elegant playing of Rogé. Whether in the huge three-movement Piano Quintet, the enormous four-movement String Quartet, or the ecstatic four-movement sonata with first violinist Guillaume Sutre taking the lead, the Ysaÿe and Rogé play with the ardent dedication of true believers, and their steadfast faith make the strongest possible case of Franck's hyper-emotional late Romantic music. Recorded in digital sound so real the ensemble might as well be in the room sitting in a circle around the listener, this set belongs on every short shelf of French nineteenth century music.

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