Draeseke: String Quartets, Vol. 1

Album cover art for upc 761203528127
Label: CPO
Catalog: 555281-2
Format: COMPACT DISC

Constanze Quartet

Our first collaborative venture with the Constanze Quartet from Salzburg also marks the production of the first complete recording of the string quartets of Felix Draeseke – a German composer, a representative of the new German school, and a contemporary of Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, and Johannes Brahms. Draeseke’s string quartets are unique in style. In them we often encounter influence from Wagner, even if not in the form of an imitation of Wagnerian compositional style but as a creative continuation of the legacy of Classical composers such as they were transmitted to Draeseke through Wagner. The idea of a “melodic thread” holding the music together while serving as a unifying element is in evidence everywhere in these works. Both quartets impressively demonstrate the words of the Draeseke expert Christoph Schlüren: “Draeseke is primarily lyrical in nature but at the same time has his appealing harshness and explores the dark, introverted expressive worlds with a unique imagination. The far-reaching melos is tailored for contrapuntal suitability, and for German circumstances the rhythm is particularly zestful and highly varied. Stylistically, relations quite obviously exist not only between Draeseke and Beethoven but also between Draeseke and Mendelssohn inasmuch as Draeseke’s highly colorful harmonic language, in part pervaded by surprising modulations, is an individual continuation and development of the New German “progressive” stance proceeding from Wagner and Liszt. Draeseke’s outstanding stature as a string quartet composer rests above all on his entirely original architectonic mastery in a genre in which Beethoven and Schubert created unsurpassable music, but where Draeseke, together with Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and the late Dvorák, proceeding from the experiences of Schumann and Mendelssohn, produced decidedly new music.”

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