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String Quartet Ainsi la Nuit

String Quartet Op.10 (1893)
Maurice RAVEL

String Quartet (1902)
Orpheus String Quartet
Channel Classics CCS 3892 [73.24]
 £12.75 Amazon UK £11.99  Amazon US $16.49

The Orpheus String Quartet has been admired by S&H in live performance in San Sebastian  & London's Wigmore Hall, and on CD I have reviewed their valuable Malipiero integrale and quite exceptional Brahms (quartets and clarinet quintet).

The early (and single} string quartets of Debussy & Ravel have long held prominent places in the affections of devotees of French chamber music, and both receive excellent performances in this release in Channel Classics' Winning Artists series. I would not venture to enter into discussion as to whether these are 'the best'; the chief interest of this CD is likely to be the quartet of Henri Dutilleux (b.1916), which occupied this fastidious composer from 1971 to 1977, and bids fair to become established in the 'canon' of French masterpieces for the medium.

It plays continuously, in seven parts, with poetic and evocative titles. It balances well its structures based upon 'chord cells', with 'parentheses' which look both forward and backwards, and underlying romantic effect conveyed by subtle string writing. It is a work which repays repetition and its inclusion makes this another Orpheus Quartet CD to acquire. The notes are useful recording and the quality is of the highest .

Peter Grahame Woolf

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