Tchaikovsky: Souvenir de Florence; String Quartet

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COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: CRD
ALBUM TITLE: Tchaikovsky
WORKS: Souvenir de Florence; String Quartet
PERFORMER: Endellion Quartet; Tim Boulton (viola),Robert Cohen (cello)
CATALOGUE NO: 3502
There’s irresistible joie de vivre in

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this performance of Souvenir de

Florence. The Endellion is clearly fired

up by the two extra string partners,

and the ensemble conveys the kind

of spontaneous enjoyment that only

comes from the best chamber music

playing. On an interpretative level,

the Endellion’s almost classical

detachment works particularly well,

bringing much-needed clarity to the

quasi-orchestral textures.

With a finely balanced recording

to boot, this version of Souvenir

compares more than favourably with

the much acclaimed 1993 recording

from the expanded Borodin Quartet

(on Elatus, reviewed in May). In

Quartet No. 3, however, the Borodins

are a hard act to follow. All credit to

the Endellion for taking a different

approach – more intense in the playful

Scherzo, and in the funereal slow

movement observing the composer’s

con moto marking at the expense of

the heart-on-sleeve approach adopted

by the Russians. Which of these two

interpretations one chooses depends

to a certain extent on whether one

feels a generally cooler response to the

music enhances its qualities. In the

first movement, I personally prefer the

Borodin’s expansive and extravagant

conception, but at the same time

admire the Endellions for their

ability to effect a convincing, almost

Beethovenian integration between the

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different sections. Erik Levi