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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Ludolf NIELSEN (1876-1939)
String Quartet No. 2 in C minor Op. 5 (1904) [30.39]
String Quartet No. 3 in C major Op. 41 (1920) [26.10]
Aros Quartet
rec. Studio 2, Radiohuset, Danmarks Radio, 10-14 Dec 2000 DDD
CPO 999 698-2 [56.52]



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Two half hour string quartets from Denmark's other Nielsen. Ludolf Nielsen wrote three such quartets, the first, a charming work according to note writer Jens Cornelius, dating from 1900. The Second is suave and full of dense movement, like mid-period Beethoven with incursions from Dvořák (tr.2 and tr.4 00.38) as well as wrenching and yearning romance (tr.3). This quartet never entered the Danish repertoire despite three concert presentations by Ludolf's own ensemble, the Bjřrvig, in 1905 and two performances by the Anton Svendsen quartet in 1913.

The Third Quartet was written at the time of the death of his parents in 1920 from Spanish flu and with the dislocation and horror of the Great War not far distant. It is dedicated to the memory of his mother and father. The first of the four movements is mobile and flowing, carefree and care-weighed; intense and serenading, mercurial and with passing parallels with the chamber music of Herbert Howells. The rocking second movement is fragrant with rococo elegance. There is just enough of the ‘powdered wigs’ effect to give flavour but to avoid enervation. The Adagio con dolore is introspective and austere, a sincere reflective song that pulls at the heart-strings. The finale (allegro) is a fantastic play of the passions - brilliant and tragic. The quartet was published in 1930 having been premiered by the Budapest Quartet in Copenhagen in 1920.

Typically warm, close recording, stingingly emotive playing, full of energetic poignancy. The Third Quartet is a remarkable work with a deeper reach than Ludolf's three symphonies which usually strike me as 'pictorial' in the manner of Goldmark's Rustic Wedding, Smetana's Festive and Børresen's Second and Third. Bless the Aros and CPO for rediscovering the fiery life in these pages and in the even more emotionally demanding Third.
Rob Barnett



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