Collection: The String Quartet in 18th-Century England

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Abel,Marsh,Shield,Webbe II
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Adeste Fideles Variations; C minor Quartet
PERFORMER: Salomon Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66780 DDD

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This disc represents Volume 34 in Hyperion’s series The English Orpheus, covering the repertories of the 17th and 18th centuries. The works featured here date from the later 18th century and, while none of them could be hailed as a revelatory masterpiece, each is fresh and entertaining.

Carl Friedrich Abel enjoyed a long partnership in London with JC Bach, and the relaxed galant style of his music certainly shows it; but William Shield’s C minor Quartet is more stirring, with an intense rhythmic activity which is genuinely dramatic.

John Marsh of Chichester was the leading musical amateur of his day, and his open admiration for the early works of Haydn is reflected here, in a piece which contains two minuets in its five-movement plan.

Samuel Webbe’s Adeste Fideles Variations were also inspired by the example of Haydn, while Samuel Wesley’s E flat Quartet (c1800) is much the most stylistically advanced of these pieces.

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The Salomon Quartet display their customary artistry, though the lack of vibrato can be tiring to the ear. Both for this reason and because of the nature of the music, the disc is best sampled one work at a time. Terry Barfoot