New releases

50 posts / 0 new
Last post
Some new releases worth a try.

I just received and managed to listened to the following quite interesting brand new releases:

- On Praga: Shostakovich" String Quartets Nos. 14 & 15 along with the two Pieces for String Quartet Op.36. Magnificent as ever the Prazak deliver brilliantly as ever the two masterworks and the two small entertaining pieces of Op.36. A profound spiritual offer by this superb ensemble in the usual excellent production of the arguably best Chamber Music label.

- From Eloquentia: Schubert: Valses Nobles et Sentimentales with pianist Guillaume Coppola. The misleading title refers to the not so often recorded Valses nobles D.969 and the Valses sentimentales D.779 by Schubert along with the Sonata in a minor D.537 and the Melodie hongroise D.817. Something fresh as for the program along with some inspired performances by Coppola and an almost exceptional recording.

- From Paraty: Russian Impulse. Rachmaninov's Corelli Variations along with Prokofiev's Piano Sonata No.6 and Kapustin's Variations Op.41 with the young bright talented pianist Fanny Azzuro, in true-life recording and excellent production. Kapustin's work has been recorded live and is a revelation of modern writing (1984) and invention.

Parla

...And a reissue.

And a significant reissue: Arcana eventually reissued the whole range of recordings of Haydn's String Quartets with the Festetics Quartet, in 19 CDs, in a very fine production and at a reasonable price. This is the most complete set of the Quartets performed "on period instruments", since the Mosaiques chose to record the most important or known only (in 10 discs).

The box set, while it is called "the complete String Quartets" omits the very early works of Op.1, 2 and 3 and starts from the substantive Op.9 up to the very last unfinished Op.103, omitting also the Op.51 (The Seven Last Words), which is not an original work but a transcription (made by the composer though). The recordings span a period of 16 years (1993-2008).

I have most of the separate discs, as originally released (in double or triple sets), which have left me a deep impression for the very idiomatic and fascinating way the Festetics performed these very important and pivotal works. Deeply rooted in the Hungarian tradition, they demonstrate a sense of clarity and precision with passion, vitality and even profundity. Recordings are first-rate.

Parla

4 Beatlefan (but not Beatles)
parla wrote:

Festetics Quartet...Deeply rooted in the Hungarian tradition, they demonstrate a sense of clarity and precision with passion...

This description also fits well the Beethoven Middles with the New Hungarian Qt.
The Czechs also produced some great quartet groups.

What fits where.

The "description" can fit, in one or the other way, many recordings with Hungarian Quartets. The point I wanted to make is that, although they follow the "period instruments" way, they keep being "deeply rooted in theHungarian tradition".

As for the Czechs, there is no question about it (Talich, Prazak, Zemlinsky, Kocian etc.). However, there is no need for any "competition" among them.

Parla

Tokyo String Quartet

A quartet that ended on the highest note possible: the Tokyo String Quartet. All their releases for Harmonia Mundi have been great, their warm, autumnal sound (from four legendary Stradivarii, called the Paganini Quartet) recorded to a fantastically high standard. HM has re- released their last Beethoven cycle as a box, in SACD format. No comparisons necessary, but it's the one set that for me stands next to the Alban Berg Quartet (first recordings) and the Quartetto Italiano.

 

On a related but different note: I just received the new Schumann recording by Quatuor Hermès, on La Dolce Volta. Looking forward for a first spin.

EJ

Tokyo String Quartet on Beethoven and beyond.

The legacy of Tokyo String Quartet, in their quite long course and member changes, is great and incontestable. Their last "metamorphosis" with the two Western soloists as the First Violinist and Cellist gave this kind of "warm, autumnal sound" (as you, EJ, aptly put it), but at the expense of some more dynamic or even aggressive power or passion, when it is needed (e.g. Beethoven's First Movement of OP.127 or the FInale of Op.131 or the Scherzo of Schubert's String Quintet).

The selling point of the reissue of Beethoven's String Quartets is that, now, even the early ones (Op.18) are offered in SACD format (the rest were originally released in SACD anyway). The price is also friendly enough. While no comparisons necessary, I could not put them as "equal" (in any possible way) to the Quartetto Italiano, let alone the Vegh or the Hungarian. For an impressive -and refine when needed- full set, in SACD format, of the Beethoven's Quartets, I always turn to the superb Prazak Quartet, greatly recorded and produced by Praga Digitals.

Parla

Quatuor Hermès play Schumann

Quatuor Hermès - unknown to me before this disc, they are a group in their mid 20s - give spectacular performances of the Schumann quartets. Sound is beyond excellent, in 24/96 high resolution. La Dolce Volta is on a winning streak.

EJ

Quatuor Hermes.

Before their Schumann disc, the Quatuor Hermes have recorded a disc on the Classical era repertory (Beethoven and Haydn), on Ysaye records, received rather well by the competent publications, even in France.

I have seen them in a TV video, but I was not that impressed either. However, based on your more than enthusiastic remarks, I'll give a try on their Schumann, although I have a good deal of some impressive recordings :Hagen Quartet (on DG), Ayrun Quartet (on Tacet), Leipzig Quartet (on MDG), Beethoven Quartet (for the first two, on Audiomax), Quatuor Ysaye (on their own label), Prazak (for the first one, on Praga), Gewandhaus Quartet (for the second and third, on NCA) and with period instruments with the Quatuor Kuijken (on Arcana), to mention the most important.

Parla

 

Parla

Atterberg and Haydn

And two more outstanding string quartet releases to close out October:

 

- earlier this year, the Stenhammar Quartet issued their recording of string quartets by Swedish composers Kurt Atterberg and Ture Rangström. Truly first rate music in late romantic idiom, excellently played. On CPO, 24/44

 

- a brand new issue by the Doric String Quartet (with a new viola), in the first of a promised Haydn cycle. Performances are essentially intimate, but played with volatility, attention to detail and every note thought through. Energy is sustained without the Doric forcing tempo or resorting to exaggerated attacks. Excellent recording by Chandos, 24/96.

 

EJ

Pages

Log in or register to post comments

Gramophone Subscriptions

From£67/year

Gramophone Print

Gramophone Print

no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Reviews

Gramophone Reviews

no Print Edition
no Digital Edition
no Digital Archive
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe
From£67/year

Gramophone Digital Edition

Gramophone Digital Edition

no Print Edition
no Reviews Database
no Events & Offers
From£67/year
Subscribe

If you are a library, university or other organisation that would be interested in an institutional subscription to Gramophone please click here for further information.

© MA Business and Leisure Ltd. 2019