One of the most grown-up review sites around

Apollo's Fire

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


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

Some items
to consider

Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano"
IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra

Sinfonie Concertanti for two flutes and orchestra

TUDOR RECORDS

TROUBADISC

A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin

NORTHERN FLOWERS

World Premiere
Weinberg’s Concertino (cello)!

AVIE

Irish-Appalachian Celebration

REFERENCE RECORDINGS

Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review



an inspirational performance


An indispensable acquisition


The finest we have had in years


bewitching sound


Simply amazing


A splendid addition


One of the most enjoyable


quite superb!


utterly essential


A wonderful introduction


An outstanding CD


cheer-raising


One of the finest versions


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
String Quartet No. 1 Op.37 (1917) [18:17]
String Quartet No. 2 Op.56 (1927) [17:52]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Quartet in F major (1902-3) [28:35]
Quatour Joachim
rec. 2015, Château d’Essertaux, France
CALLIOPE CAL1747 [64:46]

The Quatuor Joachim have produced a variety of interesting recordings, mostly of French repertoire, [review] in the last decade or so. Their personnel are a mixture of French and Polish musicians and on this disc they present works from both those countries with an early work by Ravel and middle-period and late works by Szymanowski.

Szymanowski’s first quartet dates from the same period that produced the Symphony No. 3, the Mythes for Violin and Piano, and the Violin Concerto No. 1. The Quartet originally was to have four movements but the composer never wrote the last. While the work has much of the same atmosphere as the other works of this time, it is also more severe, with a notably nocturnal cast to the first movement and more of the influence of Stravinsky than one might expect. The development is clever and leads to an impassioned coda.

The succeeding andante semplice has a simple, almost Brahmsian, opening, but quickly becomes more typical of Szymanowski, although Brahms never totally disappears. There are wide spaces between the instrumental lines and a slight folk-like tone. Szymanowski synthesizes these various elements very adroitly in what amounts to a precis of his compositions at this time. The third movement is a polytonal tour de force with each instrument playing in a different key. One can see why Szymanowski did not feel that a fourth movement was needed; the third seems to have accomplished everything he set out to do technically and emotionally as well as providing a perfect capstone to the whole quartet.

Ravel was even younger than Szymanowski when he wrote his first, and only, string quartet. Although he was already known for the Menuet Antique and the Pavane pour une Infante Défunte the quartet would help to make him the most prominent French composer of his generation. It is in four movements and on the surface, completely classical in form, but classicism à la Ravel. The allegro moderato shows the gentle side of the composer’s personality and is a little reminiscent of the music of the dedicatee-Ravel’s teacher Fauré. We are quickly made aware that Ravel has an absolute mastery of quartet “sound” and one can be excused for wishing he had written another quartet. The development proceeds in typical fashion to a wonderful recapitulation as Ravel pares the sound down to nothing. In the next movement the composer’s Basque side comes to the fore and the scherzo proper is very passionate while the trio section is wistful and sad. The succeeding slow movement is quiet and nostalgic, becoming almost tragic towards the end. This is succeeded by a sort of rondo, with cyclic use of material from throughout the piece, leading to a satisfying conclusion.

Szymanowski’s Quartet No. 2 is from his final, folk-influenced period, although by the time it was written the composer had completely assimilated Polish folk music into his own style. Again, there are three movements, with the first opening in a Mahlerian vein as the nocturnal main theme repeatedly tries to assert itself only to fall back into the night. Equally Mahlerian emotions pervade the scherzo but now accentuated by savage harmonies and a rare, inexorable quality. The concluding lento begins desultorily but finally achieves a sense of hard-won triumph.

As said above, the personnel of the Quatuor Joachim are a Franco-Polish mix, and, as might be expected, they perform idiomatically in all three works on this disc. In the Ravel quartet they show the requisite light touch as regards rhythm and the nostalgic and summery feeling that the work demands. But they are also passionate when they need to be. Only in the fourth movement, marked “vif et agité”, do they fail; they are almost too “agité” and this leaves the listener with a slight feeling of disappointment at the work’s end.

Szymanowski’s impressionism is very different from that of Ravel, but the Joachims easily bridge the gap. Most importantly, their instrumental lines are clear and crisp, most notably in the last movement of the first quartet. Their tempi are well-chosen and they are au courant with Szymanowski’s unique atmosphere; witness’ their ability to produce the requisite “hovering” quality in much of the same work. They do equally well with the second quartet, especially with the emotional shadings and sense of hollowness so pervasive in this work. One must also compliment their choice of venue. The Château d’Essertaux provides an intimate acoustic that is perfect for chamber music. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the accompanying notes. They provide scant musicological or biographical information. But otherwise this is a fine disc and I look forward to further explorations by the Joachims.

William Kreindler

 




Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

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

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
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger