on 31 January 2012
As with the Lasalle Quartet's classic recording of the quartets by Schoenberg, Berg and Webern, this first appeared on Deutsche Grammophon and has been reissued by Brilliant Classics - for which services to music, many thanks! The transfer is excellent, as is the music - even the filler in this collection, a quartet by Hans Erich Apostel, inhabits the same, tense and fiercely expressive sound-world on the borders of tonality which makes Zemlinsky's work (and that of the early quartets by Berg and Schoenberg) so interesting. It's not music for motorway driving, but a challenging listening experience which brings great rewards.
on 23 May 2014
I discovered these fantastic quartets when I was studying at Goldsmiths' College. At the time, I was learning about Mahler and found these amazing pieces as part of this study. I recommend them to anyone. In particular, the quartets chart an interesting journey from the late romantic period through the early 20th century, hinting at the more experimental and radical departures seen during the 50's.
on 19 February 2014
Zemlinsky's output is slowly getting the hearing it deserves. For a long while we heard little but the Lyric Suite, but little by little his other vocal and orchestral scores have been recorded. Here the LaSalle Quartet bring off an excellent set of his four string quartets. The first is very derivative, from Brahms and Dvorak, but once we get to the second we are quickly absorbing the heavy (and heady) influences of Arnold Schoenberg. I am often struck by the absence of composers writing in the footprints of Alban Berg, and Zemlinsky never quite makes it to that status, but it's nevertheless rewarding to track the route he did carve out.
He died in abject poverty and misery in the USA after failing to find his feet as a post-1933 émigré. Such a sad outcome for one who actually carried real gifts. I hope you'll enjoy these discs as I have.
on 31 October 2014
Glad these performances are again available. Overall, they are better than the Naxos equivalents: sharper, more disciplined, better contextualised, combining sharp-edged precision and rhythmic verve with ravishing romanticism. Zemlinsky's quartet cycle is as good as anyone's in the 20th century. It would be particularly interesting to know of academic studies of the interrelationships between Zemlinsky and Bartok.