One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU


Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950)
String Quartet No. 1, Op. 51 (1911-13) [19:26]
String Quartet No. 2, Op. 57 (1915-16) [31:27]
Ardeo Quartet (Carole Petitdemange (violin I), Olivia Hughes (violin II), Caroline Donin (viola), Joëlle Martinez (cello))
rec. 2-5 October 2006, Saint-Marcel Lutheran Church, Paris, France
AR RÉ-SÉ AR2006-3 [61.32]

In the last decade or so a number of new releases from labels most notably Hänssler Classic have greatly assisted the resurgence of interest in maverick French composer Charles Koechlin. A relatively late-developer Koechlin went on to have a huge output well in excess of 200 opus numbers. For the most part his works have only occasionally been heard with the exception of The Seven StarsSymphony, Op. 132 (1933) and The Jungle Book (1899-1940) a cycle of symphonic poems which includes La course de printemps (The spring running) (Actes-Sud also BMG/Zinman).

Throughout Koechlin’s lengthy composing career he retained both the love of the symphonic poem and a penchant for romantic, oriental and exotic subjects. A native of Paris, Koechlin seems to have had a hopeless obsessive personality. He was certainly fixated with movie stars of the early Hollywood ‘talkies’ especially Lilian Harvey writing over one hundred pieces for her (including L’Album de Lilian) and Ginger Rogers (Danses pour Ginger) also Jean Harlow (Épitaphe de Jean Harlow), Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo.

Recently I enjoyed discovering Koechlin’s String Quartet No. 3, Op. 72 and Piano Quintet, Op. 80 played by the Antigone Quartet on Ar Ré-Sé so I was delighted to be able to review this 2013 reissue of an earlier release of Koechlin’s first two string quartets from the Ardeo Quartet on the same label. It was founded in 2001 when the members of the Ardeo Quartet met whilst studying at the Paris Conservatoire. Of real value to the Ardeo is the support it receives from Mécénat Musical Société Générale with a residence at the Singer-Polignac Foundation since 2008 and with ProQuartet since 2010.

Exercising great care and attention Koechlin wrote three string quartets during the period 1911-1921 with the sketches of all three held at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris. The String Quartet No. 1, Op. 51 was composed in 1911/13 although the sketches show Koechlin began to draft the work as early as 1902. It was the Pascal Quartet that introduced the score in 1921 at Paris. Most striking for its unrestrained lyricism is the opening movement Allegro moderato. Here the Ardeo impart a highly introspective, almost tearful quality. Marked Allegro con moto the Finale has a rather hectic, helter-skelter character, redolent of Haydn.

Koechlin began the String Quartet No. 2, Op. 57 in 1915 and completed it the next year. Evidently the score was never official premièred as in 1927 Koechlin proceeded to orchestrate it as his First Symphony, Op. 57bis. As with the First Quartet it is the opening and concluding movements that hold the attention. Taking almost twelve minutes to perform its long languid melodies dominate the first movement Adagio which is notable for its subtly changing tone colours. Lasting seventeen minutes in the Finale: Allegro moderato an intense concentration is communicated by these players in a reading of considerable potency shot through with melancholy. These are polished performances of rarely encountered works and they convey a profound sense of engagement together with an impression of discovery.

Satisfyingly recorded in 2006 at Saint-Marcel Lutheran Church, Paris the sound technicians have provided clarity, presence with an excellent balance. In the booklet Ludovic Florin’s informative essay is a model of its type. This is a captivating and pleasurable release letting us hear music that deserves wide circulation.

Michael Cookson



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger