LABELS: Ars Production
ALBUM TITLE: Pleyel
WORKS: String Quartets in F, B flat and D
PERFORMER: Ignaz Pleyel Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: ARS 38 166 (hybrid CD/SACD)
Ignaz Pleyel was born just 18 months after Mozart, but managed to outlive him by 40 years. He was Haydn’s most successful pupil, and composed nearly as many string quartets as his teacher. Mozart described them as being ‘very well written and very pleasant’. On the evidence of the three recorded here, that description is accurate enough: the slow movements, in particular, have a warmth and operatic lyricism that make them immediately attractive. Elsewhere there are moments – a G minor episode in the finale of the second of these works featuring some concertante violin writing; a minor-mode interlude in the rondo of the third quartet with an agitated viola part – when the music comes momentarily to life. But for the rest this is easy-going stuff, conspicuously lacking in individuality, or in a sense of drama and tension.
The Ignaz Pleyel Quartet gives elegant and stylish accounts, but does not always characterise the music sufficiently to hold the interest. It’s difficult not to feel, too, that observing the long second repeat in the opening movements, in addition to the first repeat, is too much of a good thing. Misha Donat