WORKS: String Quartet No. 1; String Quartet; String Quartet No. 3
PERFORMER: Brandis Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: NI 5410 DDD
Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) was another of the generation of composers exterminated by the Nazis. A Czech Jew, he took Soviet citizenship after the Munich agreement and died in a concentration camp in August 1942. At a time when many other tragically aborted talents from the same period are being reassessed, Schulhoff’s centenary has brought his own music into greater circulation: as well as the present disc, there are several more on the way (including a fine rival one of string chamber music from the Schönberg Quartet and friends on Koch Schwann 3-1233-2, A381).
Schulhoff studied with Reger and Debussy, but the most telling influences on his style prove to be the Second Viennese School and Bartók. Easily the most attractive work among the quartets recorded here is Schulhoff’s First (1924), which has a distinctly Bartók-like folk dance cast. It rather shows up the relative thematic and harmonic vacuity of the Hindemith quartet, which, with the more effective Weill, was written a year earlier. The Brandis Quartet give performances of great personality and are atmospherically recorded. Matthew Rye