The Quatuor Danel continues its assignment to record the complete
string quartets of Weinberg for CPO. It’s something they have
so far managed with assurance and a complete appreciation of the
idioms involved. Volume 2 presents quartets nos. 7, 11 and 13,
three works spanning two decades.
No 7 shares a
Beethoven Rasumovsky quartet opus number, Op. 59. It was written
in 1957. It opens slowly and highly expressively, reminiscent
of Shostakovich’s First Quartet perhaps – the name is obviously
unavoidable when discussing Weinberg. There are rather formalized
klezmer themes in the central movement, and they flicker and
fleck the music’s texture, in a way that is mesmerically insistent.
The third movement is the longest and it takes us back to
the opening before unleashing a powerful set of variations.
The writing here is alternately terse and brittle, with an
urgent, thrumming galvanising the rhythmic basis of it. But
there are also pizzicato and lyrical moments too, at least
until the concluding and powerful Adagio section ends it.
Nine years later
Weinberg wrote his Eleventh quartet. What impresses here is
the sheer clarity of the writing, its rhythmically pointed
character and the Shostakovich-influenced sense of colour
and thematic writing. It’s in the Allegretto that Weinberg
unleashes some remarkable muted passages, fugitive and furtive;
totally intriguing. Withdrawn and still the slow movement
prefaces the ambiguous quietude of the finale, with its interrogative
interplay. This is a fascinating work, brilliantly played.
The Op.118 quartet
is the shortest, and is cast in one movement. The vague melancholy
of its opening gives way to a demarcated scherzo section around
4:00 in this recording. The strong sawing unison figures are
exciting whilst the expressive temperature remains terse.
The brittle gestures may be reflective of the fact that Shostakovich
had died the previous year. It’s certainly not a threnody,
more a brusque, unsettled rejoinder.
The recorded sound
in the Cologne studio has been well gauged: it’s not too chilly,
but its clarity doesn’t preclude warmth. David Fanning’s notes