One of the most grown-up review sites around

2021
54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements



TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


FOGHORN Classics


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage



Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
String Quartet in E minor (1873) [22:59]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
String Quartet, Op. 56 (Voces intimae) (1908-09) [30:52]
Vertavo String Quartet
rec. ěstre Fredrikstad Church, March 2010
LAWO CLASSICS LWC1201 [53:57]

Here's a distinctive pairing of quartets, from composers both known, literally, for bigger things: Verdi for operas, Sibelius for large orchestral works, though he did compose successfully in a variety of smaller-scaled genres.

The Quartet that Verdi apparently composed "merely for amusement" doesn't sound particularly Verdian, save in a yearning cello phrase in the Andantino; its rhythmic and structural regularity suggests early-Romantic German models. The first movement's first group builds from short motifs, complete with a fugato; the second is a calm chorale. Busier accompaniments betray the "exposition repeat" as, in fact, the start of the development. The Andantino is a wilting waltz, like the Mendelssohnian side of Tchaikovsky. The volatile, driving Prestissimo and its broad, lyrical trio suggest Schubert; the finale, confusingly designated Scherzo fuga -- the previous movement functions as the "scherzo" proper -- scurries about, with contrasting open textures.

Conversely, the Sibelius is thoroughly typical in its use of short, segmented phrases and ostinato accompaniments and its reserved, haunting demeanour; it shares the symphonies's breadth of expression without straining at its chamber proportions. The first movement generates counterpoint from the interplay of motifs, while the second, another scurrying scherzo, opens into full-bodied, dancelike climaxes; both end rather abruptly. The wistful, stoic Adagio di molto turns fervent before settling, finally, into a clear ending. The whirling accompaniments in the fourth movement, too, are a Sibelius trademark. The finale races its eighth-note patterns, sometimes in full chords, to a satisfying finish.
 
The Vertavo String Quartet serves both scores expertly. The players' incisive, Brahmsian attacks are impressive in Verdi's first movement; some tonal quality is lost at quieter dynamics, but, in the Andantino, there's no such problem. The ensemble rises to intense chordal climaxes in Sibelius's Adagio. Save for a moment in that composer's Vivace that briefly loses the scansion, rhythmic grounding, shaping, and inflection are excellent throughout the program.

As so frequently, the forte treble is more aggressive than I'd prefer, but the reproduction is basically very good.

Stephen Francis Vasta
stevedisque.wordpress.com/blog



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

February

January


Linda BUCKLEY
From Ocean’s Floor

December


Conner Riddle Songs


Rodzinski Sibelius


Of Innocence and Experience