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Leipziger Streichquartett - Encores
Franz SCHUBERT (1797–1828)
Movement D 703 in C minor
Hugo WOLF (1860–1903)
Intermezzo in E flat major
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685–1750)
Der Tag is thin, die Sonne gehet nieder
Heinrich ISAAC (ca. 1450–1517)
Sequentia (from Choralis Constantinus)
Ludwig van BEETHOVEN (1770–1827)
Cavatina. Adagio molto espressivo from Quartet op. 130
Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
Albumblatt (1881)
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921–1992)
Four, for Tango
Anton BRUCKNER (1824–1896)
Intermezzo for string quintet in D minor
Joseph HAYDN (1732–1809)
Variations on “Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser” from Quartet in C major Hob. III:77 (“Emperor Quartet”)
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Paul HINDEMITH (1895–1963)
Overture to the “Flying Dutchman” as played at Sight by a Second-Rate Concert Orchestra at the Village Well at 7 o’clock in the Morning
Johann Sebastian BACH
“ Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen”
Charles IVES (1874–1954)
Leipziger Streichquartett, Hartmut Rohde (viola) (Bruckner)
rec. Paul-Gerhardt-Kirche, Leipzig, 24– 26 May 2005

I may be wrong but I have a feeling that compilations of this kind were more common some decades ago, even so they do pop up now and then. A fine Hyperion disc along the same lines with The Delmé Quartet comes to mind. The discs are similar insofar as they are not solely collections of lollipops but include good helpings of music off the beaten track. The only piece common for both collections is the lovely Crisantemi by Puccini, written in 1890 and re-cycled three years later for his break-through opera Manon Lescaut. Both groups play it excellently but the Leipzig players wring even more of Mediterranean sweetness from it. While the Delmé chose only authentic string quartet music, the Leipzig also include pieces for other constellations arranged for quartet. I would have liked some more commentaries in the booklet stating what is arranged and by whom.
Schubert’s famous Quartettsatz in C minor is true quartet music here given a dramatic reading. Hugo Wolf’s Intermezzo, is in part cosily conversational but also agitated and harmonically bold. The serene Cavatina from Beethoven’s Quartet op. 130 is one of the master’s finest creations and it is played here with the utmost sensitivity. For me this is desert-island music. The Variations from Haydn’s Emperor Quartet could hardly be bettered either and, amended by viola-player Hartmut Rohde, they give a very convincing rendering of Bruckner’s enigmatic Intermezzo with its mixture of sorrow and happiness and its sudden stand-stills.
The two short Bach pieces and Isaac’s Sequentia sound good for string quartet and so does the Albumblatt, a late Wagner composition which could be a farewell. Piazzolla’s Four, for Tango is a quite threatening work with shrill dissonances reminding me of Bernard Herrmann’s music for Psycho. Hindemith’s Holländer overture is frankly the most hilarious Wagner pastiche imaginable, the only snag being that, according to the title, it should be played by “a second-rate concert orchestra”; the Leipzig Quartet are not bad enough to sound second-rate. What Hindemith has done with Wagner’s music is rewrite it and add wrong notes that bad players are supposed to produce every now and then. Here the effect is of a world-class string quartet playing thrilling modernistic music. There is no mistaking their playing for half-hearted amateurism. And of course who would want to have it badly played for repeated listening? And don’t be surprised when you suddenly realise that a sheet from a Vienna Waltz by mistake has been stuck in between two pages near the end. Great entertainment.
After the last Bach piece they round off the whole programme with a spicy Scherzo, one and a half minute long, by Charles Ives.
The Leipziger Streichquartett, founded in 1988, has a repertoire of more than 270 works by 70 composers and has recorded about 65 CDs. This collection contains highlights from this repertoire but everything is newly recorded. The sound is state-of-the-art, the playing is technically impeccable and there is such unanimity in their music-making that can only be the result of lengthy acquaintance and serious consideration of details and overall approach.
Of its kind this is a disc that goes straight to the top of the list and anyone wanting a varied and thrilling collection of mainly shorter pieces, ranging from Renaissance to late 20th century need look no further.
Göran Forsling


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