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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 20th CENTURY MUSIC IN 20th CENTURY SOUND, 1 Jan. 2014
By 
DAVID BRYSON (Glossop Derbyshire England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stenhammer: String Quartet Nos. 4 & 3 [Stenhammar Quartet] [BIS: BIS1659] (Audio CD)
Stenhammar was a slightly younger contemporary of Sibelius, and was apparently the dedicatee of that master's sixth symphony. The quartet of players that has taken his name was founded in 2002, and this disc is very recent indeed - 2013 if I am reading the back of the case correctly. By long before either date we came to expect particularly high standards in quartet playing, and this disc does not disappoint in that matter. Impeccable technique is taken for granted these days, and although the liner note does not identify the players' nationalities more precisely than as `Scandinavian' it seems reasonable to suppose that they have special affinity with a Swedish composer. In style Stenhammar does not resemble Sibelius (does anyone?), and I suppose a closer parallel, if only in being more `normal', might be Nielsen.

I have no issues with the performances, and although I have no other accounts for comparison I hope that after so many decades of listening to good music well played I can trust my instinct that that is what I am listening to here. However I find after several hearings that I still can't accept the recorded quality as being up to 3rd-millennium standard. It is perfectly clear, but to my ears the sound is slightly shallow and verging on metallic. It lacks richness of effect - lacks beauty in fact. This is not every listener's opinion I know, but I am just fresh from hearing a really beautiful set of similar music by Svendsen performed by the Oslo Quartet, and it is the sound on that set which makes me slightly dissatisfied with this.

As far as giving a recommendation is concerned, I can only leave the issue as I have just expressed it - does it sound to you like a set you would want to own, or at least hear? Myself, I have no regrets about acquiring it. For one thing, Swedish classical music is not something that comes my way every week, or month or year come to that. I have one other disc of Stenhammar in my collection, and before that I have some Berwald and that is all.

There is a liner note, but I found it to be a dollop of enthusiastic semi-comprehensible gush. It will not stop me from obtaining the next issue in the Stenhammar quartet series in due course, and nor will the recorded quality. Only a minority of the discs that I own come up to the exacting standards for sound that prevent me from awarding a fifth star here, and on 1 January 1994 I don't doubt that I would have given all five stars without a second thought. In any case you may not even agree with me about the sound, or perhaps about the liner-note either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent music beautifully played and recorded, 4 Dec. 2013
By 
R. J. Howgego - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stenhammer: String Quartet Nos. 4 & 3 [Stenhammar Quartet] [BIS: BIS1659] (Audio CD)
Stenhammar's string quartets are some of the finest of the genre. Dense, evocative, at times lightly entertaining and at others deeply anguished; always inventive, you never know what's coming next, resulting in a most rewarding experience for the discerning listener. Often you can't quite believe what your hearing (note the final movement of the third quartet). The quartets make extraordinary demands on their players, and the virtuoso performances by the Stenhammar Quartet are quite outstanding. The quality of the recording is superb, the acoustics producing exactly the correct degree of openness and space, as if you were listening live. If you're fond of the genre, and have never heard this music before, then give this CD a try. I can guarantee that you won't be disappointed, and that you'll soon be ordering the second CD in the set.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stenhammar String Quartets, 2 Mar. 2014
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Just come across this composer. His 4th String Quartet is delightful; a minor masterpiece. Performance is first class. a recommended purchase.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece with superb performance, 26 Nov. 2013
By 
Bardos Robert - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Stenhammer: String Quartet Nos. 4 & 3 [Stenhammar Quartet] [BIS: BIS1659] (Audio CD)
I like the Nordic style, specially the late romantics. Before I heard this CD, Nielsen String Quartet No. 1 & 2 were my favourites but Stenhammar did really good job. The performance of Stenhammar Quartet is superb. I will order the Volume 2 also!
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