MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

alternatively Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Edvard GRIEG (1841-1907)
String Quartet No. 1 in G minor Op. 17 (1877) [34.30]
String Quartet No. 2 in F major (comp. Levon Chilingirian) (1891) [29.46]
Chilingirian Quartet
rec. 8-10 December 1998, St.George’s, Brandon Hill, Bristol

A good coupling, the two Grieg Quartets. Really though, it’s only one and half quartets because the composer never managed to complete the second despite the fact that the first two movements date from sixteen years before his death. I suspect it was because he realised that in the First Quartet he had written an impassioned masterpiece and that he probably could not exceed his achievements and also not repeat the formula. It’s the opening, twelve minute movement that is especially remarkable, for a composer often associated with miniatures, or ‘bon-bons stuffed with snow’.
The inspiration in this work never wanes. The opening Allegro has an adagio introduction of considerable power. The movement is in sonata-form with a memorable first subject and a completely contrasting, meltingly tuneful second subject. These which constitute by far the longest section of the quartet are successfully woven into a convincing whole and remind us that Grieg is not just a pretty miniaturist and. There are several passages which remind me of melodies and indeed rhythms found in the finale of the famous piano concerto, completed only the year before. The second movement is marked ‘Romance’, but has contrasting tempi including an allegro agitato which reappears. The third is an Intermezzo marked Allegro and but which is also indicated as a scherzando. There’s also a delightful trio section. The finale is marked Presto al Salterello with a Lento introduction which comes back towards the end. A joyous coda rounds things off. It makes a decisive and ideal end to a strong work.
I was bowled over by this First Quartet coming to it for the first time and was expecting much from the Second. This latter was written in Copenhagen where Grieg lived for a while after 1891. In the accompanying essay by Erling Dahl, Grieg is quoted as having written the following to his friend Frants Beyer. He bemoans that “here there is nothing inspiring or stimulating” and he goes on “the music I settle on one day I tear out of my heart the next … The ideas are bloodless, just as I am …”. I have to admit that the music of the pastoral and easy-going first movement sounds just like it. It does not seem to have cried out to have been written; craftsman-like certainly, and pleasant enough but that’s it. With the second movement we are back in Norway. I hear a Hardanger fiddle melody and folk-like drones. The third movement is a song-like adagio and the fourth is a happy little Allegro. Both are quite short and have been reconstructed by Levon Chilingirian, as he writes in the booklet, from various sketches. His brief remarks are for me very frustrating as he fails to tell us exactly what his contribution was and nothing about the state of the originals. The fourth movement ends in a hopelessly abrupt manner to such a degree that the completed work is unperformable as it stands. Surely, in reconstructing a work a satisfactory ending should be ‘composed’ even if we have no idea what the composer intended. That is after all what makes Anthony Payne’s Elgar 3 so successful.
In recent years I have heard the Chilingirian Quartet live a few times and have not been as impressed as I might have expected. Back in 1998 they really hit the jackpot with this recording and are on superb form. They obviously have a deep feeling for the music and are captured in the lovely and easy-going acoustic of St. Georges in Bristol most naturally by Andrew Keener.
Now that Hyperion have released this disc on their inexpensive Helios label I can only suggest that it is well worth the outlay. Certainly the first quartet is a masterwork and deserves to be better known.
Gary Higginson



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.