The Allegri Quartet has a very mellifluous approach to Thuille's early
quartets - though in a sense all Thuille is early, as he died at so
grievously young an age. Their delicate and refined approach brings out the
almost impossibly genial opening of the A major work, written in Innsbruck
when he was a mere 16 years old, and thus preceding his studies with
Rheinberger. Dedicated to his friend Richard Strauss this four-movement work
is steeped in classical procedure, and reveals an enthusiasm for Beethoven
in the slow movement, which is lightly hymnal and impressively structured.
He shows he can throw in a dancing scherzo and a broadly sonata form finale
which marries fluid writing and good development. He also has the confidence
to bring the quartet to a triumphantly abrupt end.
The Quartettsatz is unpublished. Composed in 1879, this is its first
recording, and it's a very competent sonata-allegro, presumably modelled
after Schubert's. The single-movement span allows Thuille a fluidity and
paragraphal flow that he hadn't quite been able to obtain in the earlier
quartet, attractive though the 'prentice work was. This, by contrast, is
less diffuse and more concentrated. A very lyrical work, with attractive
themes, and nearly twelve minutes in length it makes for warmly attractive
listening, especially in so sympathetic a reading as this.
Thuille's G major Quartet followed two years later in 1881 but it was
never completed and so we are left with a three-movement torso, bereft of a
finale. This is a pity as it shows a distinct advance on the earlier
quartet, and a greater sophistication in matters of construction in
particular. The Allegri's airy style does well by it with hints of
Mendelssohn and even - to me at least - Smetana, whose own First Quartet had
been written in 1880, though I'm not sure if Thuille would have known it.
The sinuously ingratiating Allegri enjoy the Menuetto
particular, I sense, where the folkloric drone episode is greatly enjoyable,
where the rhythm swings delightfully, and the lyric temperature is always
high. The slow movement is bathed in intense elegance, but there things have
Minor though these works are, they receive affectionate performances and
stylistically apt ones from the Allegri, characteristically well recorded in
the Music Room, Champs Hill.