Debussy - Tailleferre - Ravel

Album cover art for upc 6417513104318
Catalog: ABCD 431
Format: SACD

Stenhammar Quartet

On this new release one of Scandinavia’s foremost string quartets, the Swedish Stenhammar Quartet, perform pieces by Claude Debussy, Germaine Tailleferre and Maurice Ravel. The quartet’s previous recordings have been internationally praised by critics, and this new album will certainly be no exception. “The Stenhammar Quartet produces a clean and vibrant sound, they use a range of well-judged dynamics and the articulation is exceptionally good throughout.” (MusicWeb International) Germaine Tailleferre (1892–1983) was a member of the French group of composers known as Les Six. She composed only one string quartet, in 1917–1919, when Les Six were just making a name for themselves. The Tailleferre string quartet is a sonatina-like work in three movements and has the gracefulness and understated languor of Ravel’s Neoclassicism and Les Six. The first and second movements are vigilantly dreamy and at the end return to the beginning without more ado. The last movement tells a richly eloquent story with bizarre situations, dry humor and ambiguous sentiments. Claude Debussy (1862–1918) and Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) both made one excursion into string quartet territory, producing a pair of works that both became highly popular items in the repertoire. As the model for his quartet of 1902, Ravel took the one by Debussy completed some ten years earlier in 1893; hence the excitingly non-identical twins are mirrors of music described as impressionistic. The two quartets come closest to each other in their impishly saucy pizzicato scherzos, their down-to-earth tempo underlining their groovy sardonicism. They also both have slow movements with deep, deep pools and finales that, instead of being conventionally jubilant, draw together the work’s thematic threads and leave a lasting impression of sullen intransigence.

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