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Quartets - To be released October 29, 2021 | Chandos

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Following an exceptional critical reception of their first volume of Mendelssohn's Quartets, the Doric String Quartet now completes the project. As in the case of the previous volume, the players juxtapose one of the early quartets (No. 2) with two of the later compositions (No. 3 and No. 4), composed a decade or so later. Composed in 1827, the Second Quartet pays homage to Beethoven’s outstanding contribution to the genre (Beethoven died in March of that year), but this is no simple pastiche. It is a confident work, Mendelssohn’s individual voice already clearly present. The later quartets are perhaps less overtly revolutionary – Mendelssohn was now an established figure and a recipient of Royal commissions – but nevertheless remain clear milestones in the development of the genre. © Chandos
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Quartets - To be released October 29, 2021 | Aparté

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When it comes to French string quartets, Autumn 2021 has been notably nocturnal-flavoured. First there was the superb “round midnight” from the genre’s rockstars, Quatuor Ébène – a programme of music for after dark that paired Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit of 1976 with a quartet arrangement of Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht (1899), bridged by a new jazz-infused work by the quartet’s cellist-composer Raphaël Merlin. Now here’s “Not all cats are grey” from one of France’s most exciting new generation quartets, Quatuor Hanson, whose own night-themed trio of works has the Dutilleux sitting at its climax, preceded by Bartók’s String Quartet in A minor of 1917 – metaphorically representing a dark time for Europe, and studied by Dutilleux before he wrote his own quartet – and Ligeti’s String Quartet No 1 “Métamorphoses nocturnes” of 1954. Beyond having one of the smile-eliciting album titles of the year, “Not all cats are grey” also thoroughly delivers on its actual contents. If you’re wondering what the title actually refers to, it’s the fact that at night time all cats suddenly look grey on account on it being more difficult to distinguish separate colours, and that in the same way it can be all too easy to hear so-called contemporary music as all sounding the same. The Hanson’s mission is therefore to bring out the myriad of contrasts between these three major works via a multi-hued night time musical landscape representing everything from sleep, dreams and hallucination, to liveliness and intense movement; and they’ve very much achieved that aim. First thing to say is that there’s a very satisfying balance to the programme’s overall architecture, thanks to their having placed the Dutilleux and Ligeti – each a series of micro-movements heard as a single movement which organically develops an initial motivic idea – as their two-book-ends; and you’re hearing an equal degree of architecture across the interpretations themselves, on both the macro and micro level. Tone and articulation-wise, there’s just the right, brightly crystal-edged, lucid-textured sound that served them so well in their Diapason Award-winning Haydn recording of 2019. Favourite snapshots? How about the exhilarating bite, folky kick, momentum and technical precision of the Ligeti’s Vivace, capriccio; then the similar qualities they bring to the even more obviously folky strains of the following Bartók’s central Allegro molto capriccioso; the slender-toned delicacy with which they open the Bartók’s Lento, and the dramatic tautness with which its long lines then proceed; the gorgeous gossamer wisps heard in the Dutilleux’s Nocturne 2, and the nimbleness, colouristic range and sense of organic progression they bring to that entire work’s exploration of different sound effects. Essentially, I won’t be surprised if this album ends up picking up an award or two, too. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Quartets - To be released October 29, 2021 | Chandos

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"Evoke" is the third album of the Ferio Saxophone Quartet, following their previous albums "Flux" and "Revive". In this recording the Quartet are joined by the pianist Timothy End for a programme of original works and arrangements for piano and saxophone quartet. Shostakovich’s Jazz Suite opens the proceedings, followed by Iain Farrington’s extremely descriptive Animal Parade. Next is Carmen-Suite, a virtuosic arrangement of excerpts from Bizet’s opera, before the programme closes with the quintet Memorias by the Spanish composer Pedro Iturralde Ochoa. All the arrangements are by Iain Farrington and recorded here for the first time. © Chandos
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Quartets - Released October 22, 2021 | RUBICON

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The Dudok Quartet Amsterdam is forging a reputation as one of the most creative and versatile quartets of its generation. The Guardian commented on their "lithe, lively sound and alert sense of structure and detail". This recording, their first for Rubicon, of the Brahms Quartets and the second of the String Quintets for which they are joined by Finnish violist Lilli Maijala, will be eagerly awaited by their growing band of followers and chamber music fans generally. The quartet play with unwound gut strings and a set of bespoke classical bows. © Rubicon
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Quartets - Released October 15, 2021 | CAvi-music

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Quartets - Released October 15, 2021 | RUBICON

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The Kuss Quartet’s "KussPluss" at the Klassiklounge of the Berlin Classical Radio station RBB and in the trendy Watergate riverside nightclub in Berlin is the inspiration for their latest album. Guests Sarah Maria Sun, the soprano in the Reimann Lieder, percussionist Johannes Julius Fischer and slam poet Bas Böttcher mark this innovative album as something far removed from the standard string quartet recording. Prepare to be shocked, excited and delighted as you embark on a journey of musical discovery with one of the most creative and innovative quartets of our time. © Rubicon
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Quartets - Released October 15, 2021 | Aparté

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Quartets - Released October 9, 2021 | Pedro Camargos

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Quartets - Released October 8, 2021 | PRAGA DIGITALS CD

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In 1799, Haydn set out to compose a series of six quartets dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz, Beethoven's future patron. The Quartets, Op. 77 No. 1 and No. 2 are the first results of this great project. Busy with the composition of The Seasons and the Harmoniemesse, Haydn did not manage to complete this work, but at his death he nonetheless left two movements of a third unfinished quartet, Op. 103. Daring and full of humour, these last three quartets constitute the magnificent farewell of the old master, then in the process of making way for his ebullient colleague Beethoven. This programme, marking the passing of the baton of a compositional generation, pays tribute to the great Pražák Quartet; it is worth recalling that their discography devoted to Haydn has won many awards, and with this recording the Quartet continues the transformation it began in 2015, opening a new chapter in its history. © Praga
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Quartets - Released October 1, 2021 | La Dolce Volta

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At the end of 1822, Schubert learnt that he had contracted a venereal disease. His hopes were "dashed", friendship and love became "torture". He threw all his energy into his work and embarked on the most profound portion of his oeuvre. This was the period of the song cycle Die schöne Müllerin, followed in 1824 by the "Rosamunde" Quartet, the Arpeggione Sonata and "The Death and the Maiden" Quartet. He left more and more works unfinished, but everything he did complete now took on a new dimension. His quartets are no longer for "accompanied first violin": they gain in expressiveness, power and symphonic richness. The String Quartet No. 13 in A minor, D. 804, "Rosamunde", was the only one printed and performed in public during Schubert’s lifetime. It is a work uttered in a murmur, with its tremolos, its unison melodies, its modulations. This string quartet is deeply touching in its confidences devoid of vehemence or drama. A nocturnal hymn to yearning, it is fragile and should be performed neither too desolately nor too lightly, always playing on the ambiguity between dewdrops and tears. The String Quartet No. 14 in D minor D810, "Death and the Maiden", is a work dictated by despair. Schubert concurs with Mozart’s remark that death is humanity’s best friend. He composed his quartet in D minor, the key of the Mozart Requiem. The highly dramatic first movement is a struggle for life. In the second movement, Death is accepted. The drama returns in the third movement, now tinged with irony. And the work ends with a Dance of Death, a Presto in the form of a tarantella (the Italian dance invented to cure the bite of the tarantula). The final chord affirms D minor. There is no doubt about the tragic outcome. © La Dolce Volta
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Quartets - Released October 1, 2021 | The Friends of the Opus 76 Quartet

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Quartets - Released September 24, 2021 | Praga Digitals

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Quartets - Released September 17, 2021 | Neuma Records

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Quartets - Released September 17, 2021 | Miguel Alvarado

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Quartets - Released September 3, 2021 | Chandos

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The Silesian Quartet sprang to international attention with its award-winning recordings of chamber music by Grażyna Bacewicz. Its latest project – the complete quartets of Penderecki – was started in 2012, but not completed until January 2021. Presented chronologically, the works on the album take us on a journey from Penderecki’s early avant-garde "sonoristic" style of the 1960s – the First and Second Quartets – to the later neo-romantic style of the Third and Fourth Quartets, composed in 2008 and 2016 respectively. Of all Penderecki’s output, the Quartet for Clarinet and String Trio shows the strongest links to the chamber music of the nineteenth century. Penderecki was inspired to write the piece by the 1992 recording by the Emerson String Quartet and Mstislav Rostropovich of Schubert’s String Quintet in C major, D 956. Here the Silesian Quartet is joined by the clarinettist Piotr Szymyslik. © Chandos
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Quartets - Released July 21, 2021 | Doruk Doyran

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Quartets - Released July 18, 2021 | Blue Lobelia

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Quartets - Released July 1, 2021 | Delphia Cello Quartet

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Quartets - Released June 19, 2021 | Tensivity

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Quartets - Released June 18, 2021 | Theresa Yun Sze Lo

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Quartets in the magazine
  • Hanson takes on Haydn
    Hanson takes on Haydn Qobuzissime for the spectacular first album by the Quatuor Hanson, an inspired tribute to Joseph Haydn.