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Volkmar ANDREAE (1879-1962)
String Quartet No. 2 in E major, Op. 33 (1922) [22:55]
Quartet for flute, violin, viola and cello, Op. 43 (1945) [15:02]
String Quartet No.1 in Bb, Op. 9 (1905:) [37:32]
Locrian Ensemble of London (Rita Manning (violin); Warren Zielinski (violin); Philip Dukes (viola); Justin Pearson (cello); Anna Noakes (flute))
rec. St Paul’s School, New Southgate, London, 8-9 July 2008, 31 January 2009. DDD
GUILD GMCD7328 [75:33]
Experience Classicsonline

This is tonal and melodically-centred music expertly laid out for the medium by a Swiss composer whose reputation was as a conductor.

This is not the first time Guild have issued a recording of his music. The present disc is a successor to GMCD7307 (piano trios) and GMCD7237 (Andreae’s songs alongside those by Schoeck, Freund, Bosshart and Kletzki).

Andreae’s Second String Quartet is passionate in the manner of Howells and Schoeck yet with retrospective classical material as in the almost Mozartean episodes in the first movement. There’s a chuckling bonhommie and civilised boulevard culture to be heard in the Allegretto. This is followed by the heartfelt melancholic sincerity of the Molto lento. Contrast is provided by the sunny disposition and positivism of the Allegro molto. This is feel-good writing recorded in a resonant and lively acoustic.

The late Flute Quartet is more rooted in Gallic impressionism mixed with Mediterranean classical idylls. This is perhaps inevitable given the flute. It's a warmly-bathed work that revels in mercurial succulence and in the slow melancholy ecstasy of late summer.

The First Quartet is an indulgently extended piece.  It is sophisticated, energetically impassioned, full of memorable romantic invention and a rapid-pulse vitality that carries everything before its irresistible bow-wave. The Langsames zeitmass is harmonically rich and recalls the gorgeous density of Warlock's writing for string quartet in The Curlew.

In all of this there is hardly a shred of Reger's fugal obsessions nor - pace the line-notes - much in the way of Richard Strauss. My way-markers for this music are Othmar Schoeck and Herbert Howells' chamber works of the Great War. If you need further triangulation points then Josef Suk, Smetana and late Beethoven can be prayed in aid.

Rob Barnett




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