Scintilla: Early Italian String Quartets (deluxe)

Album cover art for upc 5028421974071
Catalog: BRI97407

Butter Quartet

An exciting young Dutch-based ensemble, performing on gut strings, brings flair and historically informed style to four little-known examples of repertoire from the dawn of the string quartet. Founded while its members were students of the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, the Butter Quartet gives vibrant historically-informed performance focusing on Classical-era repertoire. Within its short history, the Quartet has appeared at several important early-music festivals. At the 2019 York Early Music International Young Artists Competition, they were awarded a place in the prestigious EEEMERGING+ professional development scheme for young European ensembles. With this collection of rarely heard 18th-century quartets from Italy, the Butter Quartet makes a thrilling debut on record. The individuality of each composer is accentuated by their mutual juxtaposition. In their booklet essay for the album, the Quartet members recount combing libraries for early quartets which have been overshadowed by Haydn’s mastery of the genre. All of the composers featured in Scintilla were famous violin virtuosi, with the exception of Boccherini who was a cellist. Their work as performers was inseparable from the music they composed. Italian galant music and performers were characterized by gorgeous tone, operatic sensibilities, and elegant ornamentation. An E flat major Quartet by Gaetano Pugnani (1731-1798) retains traces of Baroque grammar to its phrasing, while a C minor Quartet by Boccherini (1743-1805) is marked by the surges of pathos that belong to the key signature as reinterpreted by Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Maddalena Sirmen (1745-1818) wrote six quartets of which No.5 in F major is a remarkably close-woven and reflective work, hardly a display piece in the tradition of her teacher Tartini but touched throughout with the spirit of subtle innovation we associate with Haydn. Finally, the C major Quartet of Felice Giardini (1716- 1796) is distinguished by an unusually rich viola part which may arise from the circumstances of its composition in London, where the composer played his violin with both the painter Thomas Gainsborough and the Prince of Wales, who became King George IV.

Price: $23.98