Delius, Grieg, Grainger

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COMPOSERS: Delius,Grainger,Grieg
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: String Quartet; Two movements from early String Quartet; String Quartet in G minor
PERFORMER: Bridge String Quartet
Three composers, all linked by friendship, share this new CD which brings not only Delius’s Quartet but also two movements of an earlier one from 1888, the year after Delius and Grieg first met in Leipzig. Its existence was long known, for Delius had sent the whole quartet to Sinding in the hope that he would interest the Brodsky Quartet, who had played the Grieg earlier the same year, but nothing came of it. Two or three years ago Michael Schofield, the violist of the Bridge Quartet, discovered the manuscript of two movements (the third and fourth) and a fragment of another, and they now make their debut on disc. The first, the Adagio, is the more individual of the two, albeit with many Griegian touches. Only one other version of the 1916 Quartet is now available (the Britten Quartet’s account has been deleted and Decca has never reissued the masterly Fitzwilliam Quartet set). The Bridge is totally inside the idiom, responsive to the ebb and flow of the musical ideas and sensitive to its world of feeling. All the same, the performance is wanting in the last ounce of finesse, and though not a serious problem, intonation is not always absolutely flawless and true. Some will find the recording a shade over-reverberant. The Grieg is played with genuine ardour and imagination, though there are finer, more authoritative accounts before the public. But Delians will obviously want this disc. Robert Layton