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Hahn/Debussy: Aquarelles

Siobhan Stagg (soprano), Noga Quartet (CAvi-music)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Hahn: String Quartet No. 2 in F major; Debussy: Ariettes Oubliées*; String Quartet in G minor
Siobhan Stagg* (soprano); Noga Quartet
CAvi-music 8553106   68.00 mins

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This excellent disc from the Noga Quartet bursts with colour, both through its imaginative choice of repertoire and its vivid performances. The centrepiece is Debussy’s song cycle Ariettes oubliées (‘forgotten songs’) which sets six poems by Paul Verlaine and is heard here in an impressive new arrangement (by the quartet’s cellist Joan Bachs) for voice and string quartet. The cycle works beautifully with this new line-up and Bachs’s arrangement makes gorgeous use of a rich array of string timbres, from the shimmering mystery of ‘C’est l’extase’ to the buoyant trills of ‘Paysages belges: Chevaux de bois’. Soprano Siobhan Stagg shines throughout and the quartet brings real flair to this inventive project, meeting each twist and turn of the score with nuance and imagination.

Two string quartets complete the disc. Hahn’s spirited Quartet No. 2, composed in 1943 and now curiously little heard, receives a vibrant and persuasive reading. The ensemble is also much at home with Debussy’s String Quartet in G minor, proving splendidly alert to the work’s constant shifts between light and shade. With crisp sound quality and enlightening sleeve notes written by the quartet themselves, this is an outstanding disc that radiates a sense of discovery and integrity.

Kate Wakeling

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