WORKS: Lyric Suite
PERFORMER: Ludwig Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 1C 1005
Written as a tribute to Berg’s secret lover, Hanna Fuchs-Robettin, the Lyric Suite is music of passion and desolation, its serialist construction no mask for its late-Romantic language. The Ludwig Quartet reaches to the depths of its sobbing despair, from the sumptuous intensity of the opening Allegretto giovale to the nervous, intricate textures of the Allegro misterioso, with its frantic, ricocheted bowings, and the unbridled angst of the Presto delirando. The final Largo, with its yearning quotation from Tristan, is gripping, pain suffusing every gesture.
Equally compelling is Dutilleux’s Ainsi la nuit, the Quartet revelling in its introspective textures and colouristic effects, such as the shards of artificial harmonics in the opening Nocturne and the drifting, clustered chords of the ‘Miroir d’espace’.
Inconsistencies creep in with Webern’s syrupy Langsamer Satz. Tuning is a little wayward at first and the violins’ audible shifts of position become obtrusive, but the ensemble does settle and there are some songful and wonderfully understated soloistic moments from viola player Padrig Fauré and cellist Anne Copéry. The players indulge the work’s Romantic leanings with fluidity of expression and a honeyed collective tone: a shame that their attention to technical detail wanders occasionally. Catherine Nelson