Hilding Rosenberg (1892 – 1985), the patriarch of 20th century Swedish music, wrote altogether 14 string quartets , the first in 1920 and the final more than half a century later. This makes him one of the most prolific composers of chamber music in Scandinavia. Also artistically, by virtue of his very personal approach, his power of expression and his technical mastery, Rosenberg’s production is truly outstanding.
This is the the first CD in a series of 6, also available in a boxed set. It contains the quartets No. 1, 6, and 12 performed by the Kyndel Quratet, The Gotland Quartet and The Copenhagen String Quartet.
GRAMOPHONE Magazine Editor's Choice - October 2015.The Artemis Quartet pairs Brahms’ intense first quartet with his lighter-spirited third quartet, both works that the Artemis’ cellist, Eckart Runge, describes as “remarkable and multi-faceted”. He says that “Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets are imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love that is interwoven with a more spiritual, timeless beauty”.
Brett Dean is not shy about revealing what his music is ‘about’. Whether inspired by certain individuals (as in Epitaphs), or by an ecological or human disaster (as in his String Quartet No. 1, on the now all too topical plight of refugees), Dean’s works are usually – perhaps invariably – driven by extra-musical narratives. Rather than tease out any innate structural puzzles or tensions, his music typically falls into short little dramatic narratives – no movement on this disc lasts as long as eight minutes, many of them rather less than five. The most obviously successful work here is Quartet No. 2, ‘And once I played Ophelia’, effectively a dramatic scena. Its soprano soloist is no mere extra voice (as in Schoenberg’s Second Quartet) but the leading protagonist. Allison Bell’s genuinely affecting performance is backed by the Doric Quartet’s expressionist scampering and sustained harmonies, the strings occasionally coming to the fore in the manner of a Schumann-style song postlude.
"A triumphant start to what heralds to be one of the best Shostakovich quartet cycles imaginable. (…) Highly recommended." 5/5 ~sa-cd.net
The Finnish string quartet Meta4 has now achieved international recognition and regularly plays on the great stages of the world. In their new album, featuring the first and fifth quartets of Béla Bartók, Meta4 turns once again – as a follow up to their hugely successful 2011 recording of Shostakovich quartets – to a program of 20th century masterpieces. There is little doubt that Bartók is among the boldest quartet composers since Beethoven. His irrepressible expression will meet with the equally distinctive style of the four Finns and leads to incredibly expressive, emotionally charged interpretations. The uncompromising musical standards offered by these musicians take hold of the capricious ideas and unorthodox forms of the Hungarian master to deliver what will most likely be the string quartet album of the year.
Vissarion Yakovlevich Shebalin (1902-1963) had written nine string quartets as well as a string trio (among the composer's most popular works). As in the case of, say, Myaskovsky (his professor of composition at the Moscow Conservatory), Kabalevsky, Shostakovich, and even Vainberg, chamber music became among Shebalin's chief oeuvres. His well-assured, well crated First Quartet (1924), like that of Kabalevsky's (1928), shows signs of Myaskovsky's influence in its melancholic …….Recommended, with every ounce of enthusiasm.David Anthony Hollingsworth @ Amazon.com