LABELS: Dabringhaus und Grimm Scene
WORKS: String Quartet in E, Op. 58; String Quartet in A minor, Op. 62
PERFORMER: Minguet Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: MDG 603 1001-2
When Robert Fuchs died in 1927, just a few days after his 80th birthday, he was already a forgotten figure. He had been a friend of Brahms, who praised his music warmly, and he had taught a whole generation of composers including Sibelius, Mahler, Wolf, Zemlinsky, Schmidt and Schreker. In the years following the First World War, Fuchs went on happily writing music in a Brahmsian idiom, as though time had stood still.
The two string quartets recorded here, composed in the wake of Brahms’s death, can hardly have set the world alight even when they were new, but they show how amiable and skilfully put together Fuchs’s music was. The finale in each case is more divertimento-like than symphonic, but the A minor Second Quartet has an attractively lyrical slow movement, as well as a melancholy minuet clearly modelled on the parallel movement from Brahms’s Quartet in the same key, Op. 51/2. The E major Quartet is generally weaker, with a rustic scherzo of embarrassing naivety and a meandering slow movement. The Minguet Quartet plays all this music with enthusiasm and energy, though without quite managing to make a compelling case for a revival of interest in its composer. Misha Donat