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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Luigi CHERUBINI (1760-1842)
Complete String Quartets
CD 1
String Quartet No. 1 in E Flat (1814) [29:15]
String Quartet No. 2 in C (1829) [26:51]
CD 2
String Quartet No. 3 in D Minor (1834) [29:17]
String Quartet No. 4 in E (1835) [30:49]
CD 3
String Quartet No. 5 in F (1835) [24:35]
String Quartet No. 6 in A Minor (1837) [25:53]
Melos Quartet of Stuttgart (Wilhelm Melcher, Gerhard Voss (violins); Hermann Voss (viola); Peter Buck (cello))
rec. June 1973 (1; 2), October 1974 (3), February 1975 (4; 6), April 1974 (5) Liederhalle, Mozartsaal, Stuttgart Germany. ADD
from DG LP set 2723 044 (1976) reissued on CD as DG 429 185-2GCM3
full tracklisting at end of review
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 93891 [3 CDs: 56:06 + 60:06 + 50:29]


Experience Classicsonline

Cherubini may be known more as a reputation than a listening reality. However didn’t Callas record his Medée? But there are other operas: Lodoïska, Les Deux Journées and Eliza. His symphony made it onto vinyl in the 1970s. Riccardo Muti recorded Cherubini’s two Requiems for EMI Classics. The String Quartets date from after Cherubini’s long engagement with opera had ended.
This sequence of six strongly imaginative string quartets appeared out of the blue on LP from the world’s most exclusive record label in the mid-1970s. It was then very much a connoisseur’s choice and all the more impressive at full price in a 3LP box. Its attractions have faded hardly at all.
The First Quartet is fluent, Mozartean and replete with lyrically inventive drama. The chuckling Schubertian Scherzo is a delight. That same lightness of spirit is also to be found in the Scherzo of the otherwise more philosophical Second Quartet. These two works reminded me of Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings. The Third Quartet streams and runs with bustling life and if its fugal Scherzo at first tends towards the mechanically stilted the finale has muscular dramatic power. Its successor feels more dense and introspective – indeed almost melancholy. The Fifth Quartet has a splendidly motile slender charm in the mix alongside the pensive and the dramatic. Again, in the Finale, Mendelssohnian echoes abound. The final quartet was written within five years of his death. It has Mozartean cheeriness and an exciting dynamic demeanour. These qualities are put across by the Melos with bright-eyed concentration and considerable poetic spirit. The sound is analogue and is mildly undermined by a slightly angry high treble – heard in the high violin passages in the first quartet - and by a benevolent discreet hiss. Nothing to worry about.
The booklet essay by Cherubini scholar Michael Fend is full of interest – on the subject works and on their context.
The competition for the Cherubini quartets is all at higher prices from CPO (Hausmusik) and Bis (Quartetto David). I have not heard those versions but given the evident excellence of these interpretations, the convenient format and fine recording technology of the Brilliant set they would have to be exceptional indeed for most enthusiasts to look further afield. This set from the high summer of the LP still sounds handsome (try the softest of soft pizzicato at 2.47 in the final quartet’s finale) and it can be had for as little as £8.99.

Rob Barnett


Cherubini: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2
1. String Quartet No. 1 in E Flat (1814): I. Adagio - Allegro agitato 09:33
2. String Quartet No. 1 in E Flat (1814): II. Larghetto sans lenteur 09:10
3. String Quartet No. 1 in E Flat (1814): III. Scherzo: Allegretto moderato 06:18
4. String Quartet No. 1 in E Flat (1814): IV. Finale: Allegro assai 04:14
5. String Quartet No. 2 in C (1829): I. Lento - Allegro 10:06
6. String Quartet No. 2 in C (1829): II. Lento 08:40
7. String Quartet No. 2 in C (1829): III. Scherzo: Allegro assai 03:55
8. String Quartet No. 2 in C (1829): IV. Finale: Allegro vivace 04:10
Cherubini: String Quartets Nos. 3 & 4
1. String Quartet No. 3 in D Minor (1834): I. Allegro comodo 09:18
2. String Quartet No. 3 in D Minor (1834): II. Larghetto sostenuto 07:30
3. String Quartet No. 3 in D Minor (1834): III. Scherzo 07:18
4. String Quartet No. 3 in D Minor (1834): IV. Finale: Allegro risoluto 05:11
5. String Quartet No. 4 in E (1835): I. Allegro maestoso 09:30
6. String Quartet No. 4 in E (1835): II. Larghetto 07:29
7. String Quartet No. 4 in E (1835): III. Scherzo 06:54
8. String Quartet No. 4 in E (1835): IV. Finale: Allegro assai 06:56
Cherubini: String Quartets Nos. 5 & 6
1. String Quartet No. 5 in F (1835): I. Moderato assai 08:56
2. String Quartet No. 5 in F (1835): II. Adagio 06:21
3. String Quartet No. 5 in F (1835): III. Scherzo: Allegro non troppo 04:59
4. String Quartet No. 5 in F (1835): IV. Finale: Allegro vivace 04:19
5. String Quartet No. 6 in A Minor (1837): I. Allegro moderato 08:28
6. String Quartet No. 6 in A Minor (1837): II. Andantino grazioso 04:29
7. String Quartet No. 6 in A Minor (1837): III. Scherzo: Allegro 05:18
String Quartet No. 6 in A Minor (1837): IV. Finale: Allegro affettuoso



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