Jean Vallerand - vital force in the Musical life of Quebec from the 1930s to 1980.
Jean Vallerand – vital force in the Musical life of Quebec from the 1930s to 1980.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – Jean Vallerand – String Quartet – Montreal String Quartet – 1955 – CBC Transcription Service.

More 20th Century music from Canada this week. Tonight it’s the World Premier performance of String Quartet No. 1 by Jean Vallerand, played by the then-newly reformed Montreal String Quartet, recorded by the CBC in 1955.

A name most likely unfamiliar outside of Canada, Jean Vallerand was a vital contributor to the musical and cultural life of Quebec. Not only as a composer, but violinist, critic, educator and writer, Vallerand had his hand in a bit of everything and was head of the Quebec Conservatory for many years.

Unlike Barbara Pentland from the other week, Vallerand’s music was conservative by comparison – being more contemplative and serene, bringing very much to mind the American school of composers influenced by Howard Hanson.

In short, he didn’t make waves, but that’s not to say the music of Jean Vallerand doesn’t have meat on its bones, and this String Quartet warrants more than one listening without feeling challenged.

Significant, aside from this being a World Premier, is that this was the first recording made by the newly reformed Montreal String Quartet, who went to on much international acclaim during their successful career.

Nicely preserved by the Canadian Broadcasting Transcription Service (and I imagine reissued here and there), the music of Jean Vallerand is another in a growing list of composers whose works have been neglected over the years – perhaps some enterprising String Quartet might want to give this a run-through sometime soon.

Either way, enjoy.

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