Dvorak: String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 “The American”; String Quartet No. 14 in A flat major, Op. 105

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COMPOSERS: Dvorak
LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: String Quartet No. 12 in F major, Op. 96 “The American”; String Quartet No. 14 in A flat major, Op. 105
PERFORMER: Vanbrugh Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CDE 84224 DDD
A new recording of this popular combination of quartets needs to have something special to offer. While there is much to admire in the Vanbrugh Quartet’s performances, not least a splendid slow movement in Op. 96 and a well-judged first movement in Op. 105, there are aspects of the issue which will grate with some listeners. In a CD which lasts less than an hour, the lack of an exposition repeat in the first movement of Op. 96 seems at best curious, and at worst impatient. Elsewhere, the fresh-faced buoyancy of the interpretation can tip over into aggressiveness, as in the Scherzo of Op. 105 and to some extent the finale. The recording, also, tends to inflate the argument, at times blowing up the sound to string orchestra scale. As a whole this CD will not offend the listener, but it does not go out of its way to welcome. Jan Smaczny

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