One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
Google seem to have closed down local search engines. You can use this FreeFind engine but it is not so comprehensive
You can go to Google itself and enter the search term followed by the search term.


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Émile GOUÉ (1904-1946)
Chamber Music - Volume 1
Complete String Quartets
String Quartet No. 1 op. 15 (1937) [18:36]
String Quartet No. 2 op. 29 (1944) [19:47]
String Quartet No. 3 op. 46 (1945) [24:01]
Quatuor César Franck
rec. Studio Recital B (Tihange), 2006

The French composer Émile Goué was born in 1904 and, as was the case with Alexander Borodin, managed to juggle a musical career alongside a scientific and academic one. His musical background could claim a notable pedigree as he was nurtured at the feet of Albert Roussel and Charles Koechlin. His compositional journey began in earnest in 1936 and continued throughout the war, despite a five year confinement in Oflag XB Nienburg-on-Wesser as a prisoner-of-war. Although this dark period in his life in no way shackled his remarkable artistic output, he died a broken man not long after his release in 1946. His three String Quartets all date from this fruitful period of creativity  (see also reviews of Chamber Music - Vol. 3 and Symphony 2).

He worked for a year on the String Quartet No. 1 (1936-37). The booklet notes aptly describe it as ‘the song of a wounded soul’, and this pretty much sums it up. What better instrument than the solo cello to set the dark, sombre mood in the opening bars of the first movement, with its doleful lament. Then things start to hot up and the music becomes more energized. The solo cello again puts in an appearance halfway through. Tension and angst colour the music which never seems to find solace. A spiky, angular fugue, fairly conventional in style, follows; it’s a scherzo in all but name, and provides a modicum of light relief. The finale begins with a forlorn slow introduction leading into a joyous dance-like section, albeit in a minor key. The Quartet was premiered in Paris by the distinguished Loewenguth Quartet and broadcast on Radio 37. The critics loved it but this didn’t deter the composer from revising it in 1943.

Goué dedicated his Second Quartet to his wife Yvonne, and the work is a product of a fruitful outpouring of masterpieces that sprang from his period of incarceration. Having listened to it several times I couldn’t recall whose music it reminded me of. Then, after a while, the penny dropped – Gideon Klein’s chamber music – another composer imprisoned, this time in Theresienstadt, where he met his sad demise. The opening movement consists of whirling patterns of sound, unyielding in their defiance. The slow movement is the emotional core of the work, and in its dreamy and profound utterances there’s a sense of resignation and acceptance. A more upbeat Scherzo follows, assertive and extrovert and then a finale, busy and scurrying but ending serenely.

By the time of the Third Quartet, his compositional skills had advanced considerably. I found the work a much harder nut to crack than the previous two. It doesn’t reveal its secrets as easily, yet Goué himself was acutely aware of its monumental status: ‘... This is my twentieth century work composed in captivity’. By 8 March 1945 the first two movements were in the bag, and four of his fellow inmates gave it a run-through. The final movement was in his head and it was just a matter of putting pen to paper. He was released from the camp in the April, and completed his Op. 46 that June. It was premiered the following November in Paris, again by the Loewenguth Quartet.

It’s an austere work. Its monothematic narrative is set out in a theme in the opening movement. This forms a unifying element throughout the Quartet. The central slow movement is lyrically contoured with a ‘barcarolle’ lilt to it. The last movement opens fugally, and has an obsessive quality. The work as a whole is a personal utterance, its pervasive melancholy seems to depict a human being coming to terms with his struggles.

Well-recorded in warm sound, the Quatuor César Franck are persuasive advocates of these richly rewarding scores. I’m sure their convincing and authoritative performances will win over many. As is the norm with this label, the booklet notes are detailed and informative, in French and English.

Stephen Greenbank



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger