Weinberg String Quartets

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COMPOSERS: Weinberg
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Weinberg String Quartets
WORKS: String Quartets Nos 2, 12 & 17
PERFORMER: Danel Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 7775872

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The three Quartets that make up the last instalment in the Danel Quartet’s pioneering Weinberg cycle span the composer’s working life, from the youthful energy of the Second (1939/40) to the more reflective and elegiac No. 17 (1986). In between these two works comes the rather enigmatic Quartet No. 12 (1970) which is probably a harder nut to crack on first acquaintance, given its astringent musical language and sometimes bewildering juxtaposition of moods.

The Second in fact provides another useful point of entry into Weinberg’s musical language. It opens innocently enough with a rather playful idea couched in sweetly diatonic harmonies. Darker elements soon appear on the horizon both here and in the hectic but ultimately optimistic finale. Between these two largely extrovert movements comes a rather mournful Andante and a subdued Allegretto, the latter added to the original work when Weinberg revised the score in 1986. The Twelfth and Seventeenth Quartets follow a less clearly delineated emotional narrative, though the first of these works is powerfully drawn, with passages of anguish
and despair rubbing shoulders with music of savage irony.

As in all their previous recordings of this repertory, the Danel Quartet deliver strongly committed performances employing a hugely varied and imaginative tonal palette that always serves the music to its best advantage. Anyone wishing to explore music by one of the most significant exponents of the string quartet in the second half of the 20th century should find this a most rewarding release.

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Erik Levi