Debussy/Ravel: String Quartets

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy/Ravel
LABELS: DG Masters
WORKS: String Quartets
PERFORMER: Emerson String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 445 509-2 DDD (1986)
Fabulous playing, but the Emerson Quartet’s overheated approach is really best suited to the outer movements of the Debussy, which are delivered with passion and commitment. On the other hand, I don’t much care for their Ravel. The players seemingly fail to acknowledge the essentially classical poise of the first movement which is littered with unnecessary rubati. Perhaps they are on safer ground in the rhythmically charged Scherzo and finale, where the aggressive recording quality is matched by performances of considerable physical excitement. But in this repertoire, I much prefer interpretations that emphasise the Gallic restraint of these two composers. Erik Levi