Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Robert FUCHS
Complete String Quartets Vol. 1
(Op 58 & 62)
Minguett String Quartet
 Musikproduktuion Dabringhaus und Grimm MDG 603 1001-2 [58 mins]

The best reason to buy this would be if you are a collector of string quartets; the Minguett String Quartet based in Cologne is a fine group and these works of 1895 & 1899 are sympathetically recorded here in an ideal acoustical setting. Their CV study pedigree is impeccable - the Lasalle/Amadeus/Alban Berg Quartets have helped them on their way.

It obviously makes sense to try to make your mark with neglected repertoire and Robert Fuchs (1847-1927), who was 'protected and supported' by Brahms, as was Dvorak, will have sounded a promising choice. But Fuchs is no Dvorak. He was a professor of composition in Vienna, became embroiled in a pension dispute when a new director wanted to replace him with Schönberg 'who inspires his pupils in the liveliest fashion' - in the event he was succeeded by Schreker. He outlived his circle and finished isolated and marginalised.

Fuchs' music is euphonious - genial but unremarkable. Their main recommendation is their unfamiliarity, and that is not to be despised in these times when the canon rules. There are smaller movements in these quartets which would make good encore pieces for recitals of standard repertory; members of music clubs on the circuit might then be tempted to ask to hear the whole works for a change from the 'canon' of masterworks, and would enjoy them. But anti-modernism, firmly rooted tonality, does not have to be so predictable; c.f. the quartets of Franz Schmidt (Nimbus NI 5467) which are tonal but wholly original and whose revival is so well deserved.

Whether the 2nd Volume of this integrale is really demanded, purchase figures will determine.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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