Rubbra: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 3; Improvisation, Op. 124; Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 60

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Rubbra
LABELS: Dutton Epoch
WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet No. 3; Improvisation, Op. 124; Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 60
PERFORMER: Dante Quartet; Michael Dussek (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7123
A welcome reminder of a composer whose work is all substance, whether lyrical, agile or meditative, without a whisper of mere effect. Rubbra’s abiding reputation is as a symphonist and writer of choral music, but his chamber pieces have as strong a claim on our attention: the medium was ideally suited to his modes of discourse and dialectic, of organic development, of instrumental dialogue and polyphonic unfolding. The First Quartet (originally 1933-4), dedicated to Vaughan Williams, went through a substantial process of revision before emerging in 1946 as the vital, expansive work it now is. The much later Third Quartet (1963) is more withdrawn and essentialised, but still an important statement. The Dante Quartet plays both works superbly, in readings superior, and in richer sound, to the accounts by the Sterling Quartet (Conifer). Pride of place, however, goes to cellist Pierre Doumenge (in a sense these are all ‘cello’ works, each one associated with Rubbra’s friend William Pleeth) for his eloquent account of the brief but pregnant unaccompanied Improvisation, and his partnership with Michael Dussek in an urgent, profoundly expressive reading of the Cello Sonata, slightly preferable even to Raphael Wallfisch and John York’s account on Marco Polo. Warmly recommended. Calum MacDonald

Advertisement