Quintet for flute, violin, viola, cello and harp
1. Assez animé – 2. Animé – 3. Assez lent – 4 Très animé
This quintet was composed at the instigation of the harpist Pierre Jamet (1893-1991), founder of the Quintette instrumental de Paris in which he performed with René Le Roy (flute), René Bas (violin), Pierre Grout (viola) and Roger Boulmé (cello). In the company of these musicians, he took part in the first performance of the work the 17 May 1930 at the Société nationale de musique. Cras, who had already reserved for him the Deux Impromptus for harp (1925) and the Suite en duo (1927) had initiated his score towards Christmas 1927, and finished it on the 9 April 1928 in Toulon aboard the battleship La Provence. He revealed that the four movements evoked dances, but outside any extra-musical inspiration, contrary to what he had done in his Quintet with piano (1922). If the composer authorized the execution of his new quintet by strings and a piano, he had quite evidently elaborated the textures and the harmony with reference to the timbre of the flute and of the harp. Does the music remind us occasionally of Debussy because of the instrumentation? As with the Sonate pour flûte, alto et harpe by Debussy, the four movements give equal importance to the instruments, in the heart of ceaselessly renewed combinations. The modal colours shimmer at every possible opportunity, with a few delicately orientalised nuances. A flash of anxiety shows up in the middle of the second movement. The third movement (a saraband sprinkled with hemiolas) is employed in a meditative atmosphere. But the work, taken as a whole, suggests the hedonism of an idyllic landscape. Carried by the warm lyricism of the melodic lines, it concludes on a finale crackling with staccatos and with pizzicatos.