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Chamber Music - Released June 25, 2021 | Azica Records

Hi-Res Booklet
The liner notes to this release, with its brief title "Diffusion", don't shed a lot of light on the Verona Quartet. The biography on the group's website offers a little bit more information. The four musicians (Jonathan Ong, Dorothy Ro, violins – Abigail Rojansky, viola – Jonathan Dormand, cello) of this North American quartet, residing since August 2020 at the prestigious Oberlin College and Conservatory, have cultivated something of an air of mystery.To get to the bottom of things, we have to get familiar with their music, and what a wonderful surprise! The sounds, textures and timbres are a real pleasure. What is immediately striking upon listening to this original programme, which combines three mesmerising and captivating quartets from the early twentieth century in a summary of the most striking aesthetics of that era in Europe, is the balance inherent in the ensemble. The polyphony enjoys incredible clarity; the attacks are distinguished by their captivating sharpness, free of dryness; the textures are adorned with constantly changing hues, which keep the listener in suspense—listen to the very beautiful Allegro moderato from Ravel's Quartet (1903), which truly is "très doux", as the composer put it, in terms of its phrasing as much as its breath and expressive intentions. The Ravelian sweetness here is also of the utmost tenderness. Impressive!The desire for precision from the four members of the Verona Quartet never takes them into the field of strict objectivity or cold analysis. Ravel's Quartet closes this album with a few moments of very rare poetry, but the sound of Verona always contains a certain je-ne-sais-quoi which is gently playful, or slightly arch (Ravel, Assez vif), and which shines an unusual light on the expressive ambivalences of Lettres intimes by Janáček (January-February 1928), which is very adroitly balanced between the nostalgic and the mischievous. What about Szymanowski? The Verona Quartet situate him precisely between two worlds, as concerned with Viennese ancestry as with the Slavic folk spirit: the ample melodic lines (Moderato dolce e tranquillo) and the polyphonic games (Lento) radiate with the same power as the spirit of rupture that sometimes produces some very spicy harmonic friction (Vivace, scherzando). Highly recommended. © Pierre-Yves Lascar / Qobuz