As in the case of Volume
Marco Polo have pitted an eloquent,
sunny work against a more shady, profound
one. Once again this disc rebuffs any
suggestion that Spohr is facile as a
composer; indeed, Op. 152 is a work
of remarkable substance.
But Op. 141 first.
Spohr had been Kapellmeister at Kassell
for full 27 years when he wrote his
thirty-second quartet. It is a cheerful
work, as its sunny first movement attests.
The first violin part can be delightful,
and all credit to Yaroslav Krasnikov
for not only negotiating it with such
apparent ease but also for making so
much scalic work so interesting!
The slow movement (a
Larghetto) has an easy flow and much
give and take between players. It tries
for depth at times but never quite goes
there. Interestingly, the lively bounce
of the Scherzo has a shadowy side to
As if to prove that
this is no turbo-charged quartet, the
finale is fairly laid back (despite
its Presto marking). The final two chords
may come as a surprise – they did to
The E flat is more
richly rewarding as a composition per
se. There is a deep sadness to the richly-toned
beginning that sets the mood perfectly.
This is far deeper than the word ‘Spohr’
usually implies, and the unsettled mood
continues into the Allegro. An interior,
whispered Larghetto con moto (veiled
much of the time) leads to more uneasy
shifts for the Menuetto. Only the finale
is easy-going, moving along with true
compositional ease. Indeed, Spohr’s
compositional fluency is never in doubt
on this disc.
Another triumph for
Marco Polo. An explorer of a record
label it certainly is, and long may
it continue in this vein. Expert notes
by Keith Warsop (Chairman of the Spohr
Society of Great Britain) complete the
excellence of the package. Marco Polo’s
engineers (Producer Lubov Doronina and
Engineers Vladimir Samoilov and Andrey
Volovikov) have produced a fine recording.
also review by Jonathan Woolf