One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Ruperto CHAPÍ (1851-1909)
String Quartet No. 1 in G Major (1903) [36:36]
String Quartet No. 2 in F Major (1904) [34:38]
Cuarteto Latinoamericano (Álvaro Bitrán (violin I); Arón Bitrán (violin II); Saúl Bitrán (viola); Javier Montiel (cello))
rec. Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia, USA, 14-16 Jan 2014

Here is what I take to be the first of two CDs of Chapi's four string quartets. These works come from the composer's high maturity (1903-1907). The performances are virtuoso affairs just as expected. This is, after all, the Cuarteto Latinoamericano. This quartet seems ever open to new repertoire and their CD heritage stretches far and wide across South America: Ginastera, Lavista, Villa-Lobos, Ponce, Halffter, Revueltas and Chavez.

If you want all four Chapi string quartets now then they are available (after a fashion) courtesy of the Brodsky. That set from the Spanish domestic label Autor was expertly reviewed here by Christopher Webber in 2003; a pity we do not hear more from him especially in relation to Iberian music. I have not heard that set. There are other Chapi discs including at least two that include his single Symphony (Naxos; Columna Musica). Otherwise he is known for numerous zarzuelas and other works for the Spanish lyric stage. Perhaps we will also at some point get to hear his tone poem Los gnomos de la Alhambra.

The first two Chapi quartets are big four-movement works. They are not revolutionary but they are diverting and never dull. The First Quartet's Allegro moderato is poignant, sauntering and urbane. It feels nostalgic in the manner of Smetana's First. The Andante mosso is smooth but with a sultry Iberian accent. Next comes an evocation of the hard foot-tapping fury of a zapateado - joyous and deeply gutsy. The final Moderato boasts virile playing. It's always tuneful yet not at all simple-minded. It then becomes abstracted and inwardly probing. The music is enlivened by Hispanic fantasy of the type Lalo and Saint-Saens would have recognised and a tear is not far away.

The Allegro moderato of the Second Quartet displays a Falla-like wildness: the playing is possessed. The Allegretto harks back to the man-about-town urbane elegance of Chapi's First Quartet. The third movement is an Allegro molto vivace flecked with invention that might well have been influenced by Chabrier's España. There's a persistent pizzicato from the second violin. The music becomes Mephistophelean and sinister. The Quasi presto is tempestuously Hispanic then warm and regretful. It is driven by a seemingly constantly fuelled energy and ends in an explosive stamping whirl of virtuosity. Chapi was clearly able to dig deep into a potent vein of fantasy and into a generously stocked heart and imagination.

The stirring upfront recording has been made in 24 bit 192khz 7.1 surround but I heard it in standard digital stereo. This delivers a full-lipped, big and enveloping sound yet is not claustrophobic or tiring to listen to.

While enjoying this disc and waiting impatiently for volume 2 you could try some other rare and rewarding string quartets including those by Alfred Hill (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6), E J Moeran, Bax (especially No. 1) and Kodaly. More to the geographical point do seek out the Naxos discs of quartets by Jesus Guridi and Andrés Isasi (Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3) for fresh and worthwhile string quartet experiences.

Rob Barnett



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3