Sunday, July 21, 2013

Stenhammar String Quartets Vol 1 - Stenhammar Quartet (2013)

Wilhelm Stenhammar (February 7, 1871 – November 20, 1927)
Performer : The Stenhammar Quartet, Sweden
Label: BIS
Release: June 2013

We will also soon received new cycle of Wilhelm Stenhammar's String Quartets. There were six of them, if you already read my other Stenhammar blog. These fine quartets are rarely circulated among other Romantic repertoire. They were eclipsed by other popular Nordic quartets by Sibelius or Nielsen. For the first volume, the choosen quartet are No.4 in A minor and No.3 in F major. There also 'bonus' track for two movements of Lodolezzi Sings Op.39 for string quartets. These string quarets by Stenhammar often summarize with good review, and the CD notes simply said it well:
"His familiarity with the medium is evident in these works which have been described as 'the most important written between those of Brahms and Bartok', but which still remain less well-known internationally than they deserve."

As for ensemble The Stenhammar Quartet, they were stated to be present since 1995. Having a mission to promote more Sweden composer such as a recording of Mats Larsson-Gothe, Per Mårtensson, Mika Pelo, Viktoria Borisova-Ollas, they also performed classics from Vienna repertoire. On 2013 they were engaged in recording all quartet by Stenhammar, expected to finish by this year as well.

See Volume 2 article here

Stenhammar – String Quartets, Volume 1  - Buy It HERE at Amazon
String Quartet No.4 in A minor, Op.25 (1904–09)
1. I. Allegro ma non troppo 9'14
2. II. Adagio 6'01
3. III. Scherzo. Allegro 6'56
4. IV. Aria variata. Andante semplice 10'49

Lodolezzi sjunger (Lodolezzi Sings), Op.39 (1919)
5. Elegi. Lento 3'23
6. Intermezzo. Allegro agitato 3'59

String Quartet No.3 in F major, Op.18 (1897–1900)
7. I. Quasi andante 8'44
8. II. Presto molto agitato 5'08
9. III. Lento sostenuto 7'18
10. IV. Presto molto agitato – Molto moderato 10'49

Peter Olofsson and Per Öman, violins,
Tony Bauer, viola and
Mats Olofsson, cello.

Their warm and energetic musicianship together with striking technical refinement have given them a position as one of the most interesting and respected quartets in Scandinavia today. The Stenhammar Quartet.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sergey Taneyev String Quartets - by Carpe Diem String Quartet

Sergey Ivanovich Taneyev (1856-1915) Complete String Quartets (Ongoing)

Carpe Diem String Quartet (USA)
Chas Wetherbee, violin
John Ewing, violin
Korine Fujiwara, viola
Carol Ou, cello
Label: Naxos

As we experience more Russian chamber music revival now, Carpe Diem join the wagon quickly with a project to record all nine string quartets by Sergey Taneyev. In a list of most important Russian string quartet repertoires, we got the popular Tchaikovsky (3 string quartets) and Borodin (2 string quartets), we also have 'lesser known' Prokofiev (2 string quartets). We would think that the Romantic string quartet scenes in Russian come with least bang as the top composers only effort to put small number of string quartet cycle to the world, before Dmitry Shostakovich's 15 quartets of course. But a deeper survey shall tells, there were at least four more important string quartet composers that Russian can proud of. They were Alexander Glazunov who recorded seven quartets, then a massive 13 quartets by Nicolay Myaskovsky, Vissarion Shebalin nine quartets and Sergey Taneyev nine quartets. Out of four, all their string quartet only presented by at least one or two records available in market. Myaskovsky and Shebalin for example, only got one full cycle from Northern Flower label for ages now. With this rarity background, it is kind of pleasant welcome to see Sergey Taneyev now got the respect and his string quartet now being on roll by younger generation ensemble.

Carpe Diem String Quartet started the Sergey Taneyev project in 2007 with a release of their Volume 1. Volume 2 then released on 2009 and then we reach volume 3 in 2013. Out of nine quartets The Taneyev all being recorded before. Nos 1 and 2 by Krasni Quartet and then most by Russian Taneyev String Quartet from the Northern Flower label. As for the numbering they are a big mess. I don't even sure to recheck the correct string quartet number vs chronologically but I think it is like chronology order is 7, 8, 9, 3, 6, 4, 1, 2 and 5.

So there we have Carpe Diem SQ transforming these quartets, quite faithful to the old Russian Taneyev Quartet version, indeed. Surely the old version got the dynamic that hardly can matched, but in return Carpe Diem put in a soft, gently notes per notes rendition. Plus a better audio quality. Quartet No.3 in Dm seems a good starting point, with only two movements and easily memorize melodies line.  The next destination can be Quartet No.1 in Bbm, with five movements, the first movement in Adagio presented a good folk influences melody to enjoy. All two quartets cleverly selected by Carpe Diem for Volume 1.

Quartet No.4 in Am is the third minor key quartet. Still the room for more folk influenced song in Adagio repeated as in Quartet No.1. The dance theme in fourth movement may reminded to Beethovenian early and middle quartets in spirit. Now, Quartet No.2 in C did not lack of melody either. Few bar of slow introduction in 1st Allegro tempo movement utilized to built a nice melody for this quartet. It's again sounds familiar to Germany Beethoveen's styles.

The third volume of Sergey Taneyev String Quartet by Carpe Diem is similar to Northern Flower package, perhaps technically due to the length of both quartet to fit in one CD. There are Quartet No.7 in E flat major and No.5 in A major. Quartet No. 5 quickly sounds more modern, the last in chronological to composed and it's now contained significant number of dissonance. In contrast Quartet No.7 is early work that can only a step away from Classicism, the 2nd movement Adagio is earlier sign of Taneyev's signature movement on each quartets. With this 2013 release of volume 3, we hope the cycle can be fulfilled by CPSQ and let the revival of Russian string quartet rolling to other neglected composers, such as Myaskovsky and Shebalin.

TANEYEV, Sergey Ivanovich.: String Quartets (Complete) by Carpe Diem String Quartet

Vol. 1 - Nos. 1, 3 Naxos 8.570437 -  BUY HERE at AMAZON 
String Quartet No. 1 in B flat minor, Op. 4
1.I. Andante espressivo 00:09:51
2.II. Largo 00:08:14
3.III. Presto 00:03:51
4.IV. Intermezzo: Andantino - Largamente 00:06:16
5.V. Finale: Vivace e giocoso 00:05:58

String Quartet No. 3 in D minor, Op. 7
6.I. Allegro 00:09:19
7.II. Theme and Variations: Andantino grazioso 00:17:33

Vol. 2 - Nos. 2, 4 Naxos 8.572421 - BUY HERE at AMAZON
String Quartet No. 2 in C major, Op. 5
1.I. Allegro 00:11:40
2.II. Scherzo: Allegro vivace 00:06:56
3.III. Adagio espressivo 00:09:53
4.IV. Finale: Allegro vigorosamente 00:08:27

String Quartet No. 4 in A minor, Op. 11
5. I. Introduzione: Adagio - Allegro 00:11:12
6. II. Divertimento: Allegro vivace e scherzando 00:05:16
7. III. Adagio 00:09:06
8. IV. Finale: Introduzione: Adagio - Allegro 00:10:06

Vol. 3 - Nos. 5, 7 Naxos 8.573010 - BUY HERE at AMAZON
String Quartet No. 7 in E flat major
1.I. Allegro 00:12:56
2.II. Adagio cantabile 00:09:56
3.III. Scherzo 00:05:16
4.IV. Finale. Allegro molto 00:09:56

String Quartet No. 5 in A major, Op. 13
5.I. Allegro con spirito 00:09:18
6.II. Adagio espressivo 00:06:35
7.III. Allegro molto 00:03:44
8.IV. Presto 00:04:33

New Sergey Taneyev String Quartet CD released by Carpe Diem String Quartet , July 2013

Ohio based Carpe Diem String Quartet now emerged as one of critically acclaimed young string quartet from the US soil. They venture not only in classical styles but also "eclectic musical interests have led them down the paths of gypsy, tango, folk, pop, rock, and jazz-inspired music...". The first CD of this series was selected for the 51st Grammy Awards Entry List (2009) in four categories: Best Classical Album, Best Chamber Music Performance, Best New Artist, and Best Engineered Album-Classical. The quartet is the resident ensemble for Columbus Dance Theater, and their joint project The String Machine was aired by WOSU-PBS television through 2007–2008, and nominated for an Emmy award. In 2010, 2011, and 2012 Carpe Diem was the only quartet in America chosen to receive prestigious ArtsAlive Awards from the PNC Foundation.

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tags: Sergey Taneyev String Quartet album review