Hugo KAUDER (1888-1972)
String Quartet No. 1 (1921) [23:14]
String Quartet No. 2 (1924) [17:34]
String Quartet No. 3 (1926) [15:09]
String Quartet No. 4 (1927) [15:25]
Euclid Quartet (Jameson Cooper (violin); Jacob Murphy (violin); Luis Vargas (viola); Amy Joseph (cello))
rec. 12-14 August, 12-13 November 2005, St Bridget's Church, Solon, Iowa. DDD
CENTAUR CRC 2840 [71:28]
Kauder was born in Moravia - now part of the Czech Republic. He made a career for himself in Vienna but the Nazi insurgency compelled his departure in 1940. Having settled in New York he began a second life as composer and teacher. He wrote 19 string quartets, more than 200 other instrumental works and 100 vocal settings ranging over James Joyce, Swinburne, Nietzsche and Goethe. There is a Kauder website: www.hugokauder.com
These recordings radiate a supremely surging commitment. There is no suggestion of a dutiful read-through here. We start with the withering intensity of the First Quartet threaded through with nostalgia and flirting with dissonance and fugal flounce. Its last movement closes with the explosively resounding protest of the first. The Second Quartet, also in three movements, was written as a wedding present for his wife. It is tender, passionate and open-textured and reminded me of Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending. The second movement has the flightiness and pleasure in melody of Frank Bridge with a folksy quality. The work sports a variations finale. Its successor is a theme and variations on Czech folksong: Oh love, dear love how fickle you are. It develops considerable passionate heat. The yet more intense Fourth Quartet was premiered by the Rosé Quartet in 1930 and is in five movements.
Kauder, at least on this evidence, is no Schoenberg-adherent. He is a polished and sincere practitioner of the instrumental creative art. He adds to this a splendidly indulged penchant for melody that for me places him alongside the pastoral singers of the British Isles. If you enjoy Bridge, early Howells and the pastoral RVW you will love this knowingly engaging and vivacious music. What can his other music be like?
For another perspective do read Kevin Sutton’s review.