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Chamber Music - Released September 27, 2011 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio

Chamber Music - Released November 2, 2018 | BIS

Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Founded in 2005, the Chiaroscuro Quartet brings together musicians from all the corners of Europe: the Russian Alina Ibragimova and the Spaniard Pablo Hernán Benedi on violins, the Swede Emilie Hörlund on the viola and France's Claire Thirion on the cello. From their very first performances Chiaroscuro have been hailed as "a trailblazer for the authentic performance of High Classical chamber music" by the very highbrow UK music magazine Gramophone, and "a shock to the ears of the best kind" by The Observer. Indeed, their performance of Schubert is compelling in its rhythmic freedom and its limitless palette of contrasts. It goes from the gentlest pianissimo to the most resounding full-bowed fortissimos by way of a thousand and one shades which are hardly ever heard in the performances of "classical" quartets. In their hands, the discourse of Death and the Maiden takes on a bitterness, a pure romanticism and even a level of modernity as they strip out the rather sepia-Vienna aspect which some traditional interpretations feature. As for the Ninth Quartet in G minor, it's one of the those Schubertian miracles written in his adolescence: coming to light in 1815 its discourse is indeed tragic, but lacking in the inconsolable depth of Death and the Maiden. However, this doesn’t make it any less of a masterpiece. © SM/Qobuz
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Classical - Released March 25, 2013 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Hi-Res Audio
The multinational Chiaroscuro Quartet promises performances of music of the Classical era "on period instruments informed by a historical approach." This tells you less than it would if applied to Baroque music, but the features of Classical-period historical string performance are in evidence here: vibrato is kept to a minimum, and the scooping accents possible on later instruments are scrupulously weeded out. The biggest surprise, however, would have been possible even played on contemporary instruments: the String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Op. 95, of Beethoven, designated by Beethoven as "Serioso," is given an interpretation with the seriousness radically scaled down. The group seems to be after a revisionist interpretation that holds that the violent qualities in this quartet were placed there by Romantic after-the-fact thinking and even later by psychoanalysis of Beethoven's difficult life around this time. The music is tense but light, with the really startling harmonic developments in the opening movement treated not as utterances of emotional torture but as little flashes of psychedelic light. The slow movements of all three works on the album are marvelous, with the players perfectly coordinated and the music seeming to breathe like some living creature, the lack of vibrato making the individual instruments difficult to pick out. And the Mozart Adagio and Fugue in C minor for string quartet, K. 546, and String Quartet in E flat major, K. 428 (a work also often given post-facto Romantic intensity) are less startling on first hearing. The Beethoven is one of those performances far enough outside the norm that it's safe to say some will think it's brilliant, some will hate it. But neither group will be able to claim it's not well thought out.
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Classical - Released March 25, 2013 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Hi-Res Audio

Classical - Released July 1, 2016 | BIS

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Classical - Released January 26, 2015 | Aparté

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The multinational Chiaroscuro Quartet, formed in Britain, has produced unorthodox interpretations of Classical- and early Romantic-era music, using period instruments and bows, and gut strings. No one could ever accuse them of delivering the chilly sort of Mozart playing Baroque specialists so often do. If anything, they look forward in time, not back. Check out the moody, sustained playing in the first movement of the Mozart String Quartet in D minor, K. 421, for an example. It's subjective and passionate in a way that isn't normally associated with Mozart, but it's intelligently sustained throughout the work. Moreover, in several recordings this quartet has programmed Mozart's music with that of later composers in which its resonances emerge in some distinct way, and the pairing here, with Mendelssohn's String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 13, is especially strong. Each work broke new ground for its composer, and each set a dark emotional tinge against a prevailingly sunny musical language. The sound, recorded at the abbey of Port Royal des Champs in France, is a major plus, catching the warm sound of the instruments even as the group lays out an uncompromisingly intense vision of the music. Certainly an alternative vision of Mozart and Mendelssohn, but one well worth investigating.