Berwald: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3

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COMPOSERS: Berwald
LABELS: BIS CD-759
WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3
PERFORMER: Yggdrasil Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CD-759
The Swede Franz Berwald (1796-1868) is famous for his symphonies, but these well-written quartets reveal him as a master of chamber music, too. No. 1 is an accomplished work dating from his early twenties. Nos 2 and 3 are more characterful, the latter adopting an imaginative five-movement design alternating fast and slow music. But No. 2 impresses most, its audacious slow introduction setting the tone for a most interesting work which builds towards a wonderfully radiant conclusion.

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Berwald’s style recalls that of Mendelssohn, whom he met during the course of his travels. The quality of the Second Quartet makes it the more regrettable that he never heard it in performance; presumably his career as manager of a sawmill allowed him too little time for his music.

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The beautifully balanced textures of these quartets are well served by the recording, which has great clarity. The young Yggdrasil Quartet also confirms the excellent impression it made at the 1994 London International String Quartet Competition. Terry Barfoot