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Jacques Leguerney: String Quartet in D for two violins, viola and cello

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By Jacques Leguerney

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String Quartet Cello, String Quartet, Viola, Violin - Level 5 - Digital Download
Composed by Jacques Leguerney. 20th Century, Standards. Score and parts. 125 pages. Musik Fabrik Music Publishing #3457403. Published by Musik Fabrik Music Publishing (A0.534402).

Item Number: A0.534402

Jacques Leguerney (1906-1997) composed two string quartets. The Premier Quatuor à cordes was composed in 1925 during Leguerney’s private piano and composition study with French pianist Thérèse Cahen. His second quartet, subject of this publication by Musik Fabrik, was written between November 1947 and September 1948.  

The four movements are: I. Allegro moderato; II. Intermezzo; III. Scherzando; IV. Presto-Andantino.

This work was, in part, Leguerney’s response to the Premier Quatuor à cordes (inédit) by his colleague, Henri Sauguet. Leguerney stated in a personal interview with Patrick Choukroun (18 May 1989) that: “I wrote it a bit in opposition to Sauguet’s Premier Quatuor. It seemed to me that his quartet was without interest: just scratchings! I wanted to express my way of looking at it from the classical viewpoint of the past: it is almost in the spirit of Mozart, except for the harmonic language, of course. In fact, I wanted to fight against everything that has been done to a quartet since Beethoven’s last ones.”

The premiere of the Quatuor à cordes en ré mineur was by the Quatuor Pro Arte at the Abbaye de Royaumont. Before this performance, Poulenc sent Leguerney the following note: “Fortunate man for whom twelve strings are enough to charm people, I wish you good luck and respectfully embrace you.” (Handwritten letter, Reims, 4 September 1959).

Leguerney was appointed artistic director of the Lumen recording company in 1951, and remained in this position until 1959. He produced four recordings of his music, including the Quatuor Pro Arte’s recording of the Quatuor à cordes en ré mineur (1947-1948) (Lumen, LD 2.440, 1958). This disc won the Grand Prix du Disque de l’Académie Charles Cros on 13 March 1959. The Pro Arte’s members were Suzanne Plazonich, Violin I; Chantal Beylier, Violin II; Nicole Gendreau, Viola; and Micheline Burtin, Cello.

Francis Poulenc wrote to Leguerney concerning this recording: “It is very good Leguerney. Of course, frivolous as I am and shall always remain, it is the 2nd movement that I prefer. Between us, I am like you: I prefer the scherzos after the andantes; that way one is not forced to write a Finale allegro. Yours pleases me very much, in fact, so to my ears it is III-IV-I-II, in the order of pleasure.” (Manuscript letter, Bagnols, 14 October 1959)

The radio station France I broadcast the Quatuor with on 11 July 1959 on the program Schola of the series Concert de musique contemporaine, again with the Quatuor Pro Arte. An archive recording of this broadcast exists on magnetic tape.

Critic Claude Rostand wrote: “Jacques Leguerney does not seem to have looked for special innovations either in form or language. His basic thought seems especially to have written a quartet, that is to say on one hand to have used the four voices with elegance and originality, clarity and homogeneity (four-part writing seems to always have come naturally to him, even at the piano), and on the other hand to exploit all of the supple cushioning that can result from the caress of a bow on a string.”

Critic Emile Vuillermoz wrote: “His only ambition is to expresses clear and affectionate melodic ideas, in a highly distinguished, elegant and refined language, meaning an homage, in the beginning of our century, to the trios of the greatest stylists of our time. In fact, it is from the vocabulary of Fauré, Debussy and Ravel that he takes his grammar and syntax and that with which he carries out with his this harmonic writing that is both supple and sparse, that is so congenial to the association of four string instruments. This quartet, whose first movement is of a rare perfection, is a delicate enchantment.”

The Musik Fabrik edition of the Quatuor à cordes en ré mineur is taken from a photocopy of the composer’s manuscript of the full score. We also had access to the quartet parts found in Leg.

This product was created by a member of ArrangeMe, Hal Leonard’s global self-publishing community of independent composers, arrangers, and songwriters. ArrangeMe allows for the publication of unique arrangements of both popular titles and original compositions from a wide variety of voices and backgrounds.

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