DEBUSSY String Quartet, Op. 10; RAVEL String Quartet
The La Dolce Volta label sets its sights high. Each disc, it says, ‘is conceived in a limited edition as an objet d’art, through a unique collaboration with an artist’. The listener should be made to feel a desire ‘to belong to a club of musical epicureans’. Stylish luxury and capitalising on the connection that an interpreter has with the music in question are also among the label’s aims, ear-catchingly realised in this coupling of Debussy and Ravel from the Talich Quartet.
The Talich, established in 1964, has changed its personnel over the years but the genealogy remains unbroken: its first violinist is Jan Talich Jnr, son of the founder. The line of excellence has been maintained, as is fully evident in these supreme performances of the Debussy and Ravel quartets. The Talich, which is just as adept in illuminating the character of a broad repertoire from Haydn to Bartók and Shostakovich, seems here to inhabit the very soul of Debussy and Ravel. It seems counterproductive to pinpoint any particular passage that demonstrates the Talich’s intuitive feel for this music, since the interpretations are so organically and seamlessly imagined, but the sharp contrast between the muted, elusive, shimmering atmosphere of the slow movement of the Ravel and the sudden explosion of activity and strength at the start of the finale is just one instance where these performances seem to find just the right mode of expression. The subtlety, beauty and sinew of the playing are simply amazing.