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5.0 out of 5 stars Two Quartets More Similar Than You Might Guess, 20 Mar. 2010
J Scott Morrison (Middlebury VT, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: String Quartets (Audio CD)
I blush to admit that I had never heard the Verdi string quartet before, having assumed that it would be more operatic and less quartet-y than is my preference. I was surprised, then, to hear this performance of the Verdi by the Artemis Quartet, particularly since it is coupled with Brahms's formally classical Second Quartet, Op. 51, No. 2. And it turns out these two quartets more alike than I had imagined. I couldn't have been more surprised when I got to the fourth movement of the Verdi and discovered that it is largely (and expertly) fugal. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised since I know and love the fugal ensemble that ends Verdi's final masterpiece, 'Falstaff' -- the ironic 'Tutto il mondo è burla' ('All the world's a joke'). My tastes tend to be more Germanic than Italian, more pedantic, I suppose, than emotional. The Verdi has plenty of the latter, but a satisfying amount of the former as well. Further, Verdi has had the good sense to supply easily distinguishable motifs and tunes that make the working out all the more enjoyable and certainly easy to follow. The second movement has some delightful operatic tunes in it, but even that movement is constructed along classical lines. The Allegro first movement is rigorously constructed and the Scherzo is invigorating but also includes a meltingly beautiful cello melody in its trio.

As for the Brahms, this is a lovely performance by the young and talented Artemis Quartet. They were formed in 1994 and made this recording in 2001. (Incidentally, the personnel on this disc are the group's original members. They have since changed their second violinist and violist.) They play up the dramatic qualities of the Brahms without slighting the many episodes that are lyrical. The same is true of the Verdi which has even more emotional contrasts than the Brahms.

This, then, is a disc that contains two very satisfying performances of two wonderful quartets. Recorded sound is natural.

Scott Morrison
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5.0 out of 5 stars Artemis Quartet, 16 Jan. 2014
A. F. H. Mayne "speaker sticks" (Lincs u k) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: String Quartets (Audio CD)
This was a purchase for my edification. I play it on my Brahms days and it meets with my satisfaction. I recommend it to all Brahms devotees. Thanks for listing it and for the pleasure.
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String Quartets
String Quartets by Brahms (Audio CD - 2010)
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