Bruch: String Quartet in C minor, Op. 9; String Quartet in E, Op. 10

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WORKS: String Quartet in C minor, Op. 9; String Quartet in E, Op. 10
PERFORMER: Mannheim Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 999 460-2
Of the dozen or so extant chamber works by Max Bruch, two are string quartets written at the start of his twenties. As one expects of this Classical-Romantic composer, both pieces are tuneful, but they are also well-crafted for such a young man. Op. 9 in C minor is full of rich melodies in the first two movements and spirited rhythms in the scherzo and finale, while Op. 10 in E achieves orchestral effects in the disposition of the four instruments, has an elaborate slow movement, and adds Schubertian touches in the scherzo and two trios. The Mannheim Quartet emphasises the stormy Romantic outpourings of Op. 9’s outer movements while achieving a particularly fine inner balance in its lyrical Adagio, and the playing in the sunnier Quartet in E is notable for felicitous phrasing and balanced dynamics. This is the second CD of these quartets (the first, with the Italian Academica Quartet, was a 1993 remastering of a 1983 LP) and it is time to see either work in chamber music programmes: this excellent disc makes the case stronger. Christopher Fifield