Fauré • Debussy • Stravinsky

COMPOSERS: Debussy • Faure • Stravinsky
LABELS: Wigmore Hall Live
ALBUM TITLE: Fauré • Debussy • Stravinsky
WORKS: Fauré: String Quartet, Op. 121; Debussy: String Quartet in G minor, Op. 10; Stravinsky: Concertino; Double Canon; Three Pieces for String Quartet
PERFORMER: Ysaÿe Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 12

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Among the more rewarding features of the generally energetic playing on this disc are the willingness to make French crescendos and diminuendos as wide as in the German or Russian repertoire and, in the Fauré Quartet, a real allegro for the last movement, well up on the allegro moderato of the first. If I forgive (just about) one rather gross unmarked rallentando in the finale of the Debussy, I’m not so sure about the failure to observe Stravinsky’s carefully apportioned dynamics in the first of his Three Pieces: in particular the fortissimo second violin interruptions need to stand out much more vividly from the mezzo-forte first violin. I query too their slow opening tempo for the third movement of the Debussy – general practice these days. But the marking is andantino, with the central section only ‘un peu plus vite’. My main unhappiness though is with the actual sound, which is overbright for my taste, and at climaxes, especially in the Debussy, tips over into harshness. I’m all for eschewing Impressionist sludge, but as the mature Debussy was to opine, ‘one does not catch flies wit vinegar’.

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Roger Nichols