WORKS: String Quartet; String Quartet No. 3
PERFORMER: Angeles String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 3-7325-2 DDD
This pairing of Kreisler and Korngold is both appropriate and interesting. Neither is exactly best known as a composer of string quartets, Kreisler’s fame being greater as a violin virtuoso and Korngold’s as a composer of opera and film music; both were Jewish natives of Vienna who emigrated to the USA to escape Hitler; and in both quartets the composers’ melodic gifts combine with a terser, more expressionistic edge which perfectly mirrors the dilemma of the Viennese in exile.
Korngold’s Third Quartet was his first piece of ‘pure’ music after the war – during which he had written virtually nothing but film music. It borrows heavily from his film scores, most notably in the haunting and desolate atmosphere of the third movement, which originates from the Edward G Robinson classic The Sea Wolf. Kreisler’s quartet exudes lyricism and charm but conveys a darker side to the composer’s work than do most of his violin salon pieces.
The Angeles Quartet wasformed by accident seven years ago in Los Angeles when the four members were invited to play together for one concert and discovered an extraordinary rapport in performance. Here the ensemble lives up to its name – this playing is as angelic as anyone could wish, the tone rich and deeply felt, the balance excellent. Jessica Duchen