French Quartet Night


1 June 2018 – 6:30 pm
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Tickets 14 to 27 € Book
1 June 2018 – 8 pm
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Tickets 14 to 27 € Book
1 June 2018 – 9.30 pm
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Tickets 14 to 27 € Book
1 June 2018 – 11 pm
Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord
Tickets 14 to 27 € Book
Read programme notes

Production Palazzetto Bru Zane
Joint realisation C.I.C.T. – Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord

Ahead of the trio, the quintet and even the sonata, the string quartet had become established by the end of the eighteenth century as the favourite medium of Parisian composers of chamber music. While everyone is aware of how Beethoven revolutionised the genre, it is less well known that France by no means lagged behind its Austro-German neighbours. Hyacinthe Jadin, in particular, developed in Paris a personal style whose character, at once incisive and poetic, has nothing to fear from comparison with Mozart or Haydn. This aesthetic was to develop further in the hands of Gossec, then of Onslow, Reicha and Boëly. Having attained stylistic perfection around 1820, the quartet became a place for composers to experiment and confide intimate thoughts. The quartet grew in profundity: alongside Gounod, at a time when Saint-Saëns and Fauré were still avoiding the genre, Franck made a major contribution in 1890 that inspired the young Debussy, but also d’Indy, Chausson and Magnard – a model from which Ravel was the first to break free in 1903.

The Palazzetto Bru Zane here offers an opportunity to discover the whole history of this eminently Romantic genre in four concerts and eight composers, with the advocacy of artists from among the new generation of performers.

Concert Program

Quartet in C minor Op. 35
Gabriel FAURÉ
Quartet in E minor Op. 121

Quartet in C major Op. 64
Antoine REICHA
Quartet in C minor Op. 49 No. 1

Théodore GOUVY
Quartet No. 4 in A minor Op. 56 No. 2
Charles GOUNOD
Quartet in G minor CG 565

Juan Crisóstomo de ARRIAGA
Quartet No. 3 in E flat major
Quartet No. 1 in E minor Op. 112

The French Romantic Quartet

The quartet genre, brought to a peak of stylistic perfection by Haydn and Mozart became, with Beethoven, a locus for experimentation, in which no instrument took precedence over the others. This idea did not immediately catch on in France: Rode and Kreutzer developed the “quatuor brillant”, in which the first violin played the main melody, accompanied by its three subordinates. However, as a result of Beethoven’s influence, the egalitarian style gradually became the norm, as did the notion of the quartet as the ultimate serious genre, the main repository for a composer’s personal confidences. In the early 20th century, the string quartet came to represent the culmination of a career for many French composers. Since the widespread circulation of Beethoven’s last quartets had “condemned them to the status of masterpieces” (Joël-Marie Fauquet), composers tended to tackle this genre with a certain degree of trepidation. Like César Franck, who completed his first quartet in 1890, the year of his death, and Ernest Chausson, who did not finish the only quartet he began in 1898 (he died in 1899), Gabriel Fauré only turned to the genre for his very last work, the E Minor Quartet, opus 121 (1924).