Sunday, 17 January 2016

A remarkably fine performance of Beethoven’s String Quintet in C major Op.29, with violist Lawrence Dutton, is coupled with a terrific performance of the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132 making a fine addition to the Quartetto di Cremona’s Beethoven Quartet cycle for Audite

When I reviewed the Quartetto di Cremona’s  first issue in their series of complete Beethoven String Quartets for Audite  I was impressed by their fluency, sparkle and passion.

This fine Quartet has now reached Volume Five in their cycle where, with violist Lawrence Dutton  from the Emerson String Quartet, they bring us the String Quintet in C major, Op.29 coupled with the late String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132

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They bring a real intensity and character to the opening of the Allegro moderato of String Quintet in C major, Op.29, soon developing a fine forward momentum. They are alive to every nuance and sudden change in tempo and dynamics whilst achieving some fine textures and sonorities. There is always an underlying sense of urgency and tension with some tremendous passages developed later in the movement.  

In the Adagio molto espressivo these players bring an exquisite flowing melody over the pulse of the pizzicato cello. They weave the theme beautifully with some wonderfully sensitive hushed passages as well as some quietly powerful moments.  They always seem to know where they’re going with a fine sense of overall structure. Towards the end they bring a startlingly emotional outburst before leading slowly and gently to the coda.

These players bring a fine rhythmic bounce to the Scherzo. Allegro with some terrific interplay.  There is a finely shaped trio section with this Quintet bringing a real swagger as we are led forward to the coda.

There is such fine, lightly bowed playing in the frenetic opening of the Presto. This is remarkably fine playing by any standards as they follow every twist and turn, every dynamic, continuing with the intensity that has run through so much of this performance. There is some very fine control of dynamics before a crisp and decisive coda.

This is a remarkably fine performance.

The Quartetto di Cremona achieve some glorious textures in the opening of the Assai sostenuto – Allegro of the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132, bringing intense emotion as the music rises up. They provide a very fine rubato as they retain an emotional tension behind the intense lyricism, bringing ever changing textures and sonorities as the music develops with a terrific weaving of musical lines. They bring such finely controlled dynamics whilst revealing exquisite details.  

This control of dynamics is to the fore in the opening of the Allegro ma non tanto with wonderful phrasing and a fine tautness to their playing. Yet for all the tautness they bring a real sense of spontaneity as they bring out so many of Beethoven’s often unusual ideas. There is fast lithe flow before the finely done coda.

What can one say of the wonderful, intense slow movement marked Molto Adagio – Neue Kraft fühlend. Andante – Molto adagio – Andante – Molto adagio. Mit innigster Empfindung  with the added caption Heiliger Dankgesang eines Genesenen an die Gottheit, in der lydischen Tonart (Holy song of thanksgiving of a convalescent to the Deity). In the hands of this fine Quartet there are the most wonderful sonorities in the opening long drawn phrases. Each player adds something special to the exquisite hushed moments and just the right amount of rhythmic lift when the music rises, bringing an emotionally charged, fragile jollity. There is always a strong, if gentle, forward flow with beautifully drawn, long phrases as the music rises and falls. Part way they bring a brighter, taut section yet always with a sense of urgency and tension. There are more of those sustained, long drawn phrases throughout which so many threads are woven before the music rises to an intense climax before slowly finding a peace in the coda.

The Alla marcia, assai vivace opens with a well sprung sense of joy and some wonderfully crisp playing. There is a further array of fine textures and sonorities – before leading into the concluding Allegro appassionato where this Quartet bring a lilting, dance like feel before developing through some really incisive passages. They provide some wonderfully controlled and developed passages, often full of strength, precision and passion, before a beautifully sprung coda.

This is a terrific performance that reveals further the remarkable qualities of this Quartet and makes fine addition to the Quartetto di Cremona’s Beethoven Quartet cycle.

The SACD recording is first class and there are useful booklet notes.

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