Monday, April 27, 2015

Felix Blumenfeld - Theophil Richter - String Quartets (2015)

Composers: Felix Blumenfeld (1863-1936) , Theophil Richter (1872-1941)
Performer: Odessa String Quartet
Label: Naxos America
Release: May 2015

Theophil Richter is father of great Soviet pianist Sviatoslav Richter (1915-1997).  Theophil Richter worked in Odessa at the St. Paul's Church, at the opera and at the conservatory and fell 1941 Stalinist repression victims. According to Sviatoslav, Theophil indeed lived in Vienna for about 20 years. This string quartet in one of Theophil's many composition. While Felix Blumenfeld is widely known as Russian pianist and composer. String Quartet in F major Op.26 by Felix will be world premiere as recording by Odessa String Quartet, all together in this CD. The works will be a valuable addendum to our extensive knowledge of late Romantic era string quartet.

CD notes;
Aside from some smaller piano pieces, the String Quartet in F major is the only remaining composition by Theofil Richter, father of pianist Sviatoslav Richter, who preserved the manuscript. In this work, Theofil Richter presented his compositional mastery in the sophisticated genre of the string quartet. Felix Blumenfelds String Quartet Op. 26 in F major (1898) captured first prize of the St. Petersburg Chamber Music Society (Russia). This powerful piece is characterized by a wealth of melodic imagination. The Odessa String Quartet gives these works their world premiere recordings. 

Theophil Richter (1872–1941) ; Felix Blumenfeld (1863–1936): String Quartets
World Premiere Recordings - BUY IT HERE

Odessa String Quartet:
Natalya Litvinova & Leonid Piskun (Vl)
Iya Komarova (Va)
Sergei Scholz (Vc)

Theophil Ricter String Quartet in F major
1 Moderato 08:51
2 Andante 06:28
3 Tempo giusto à la Valse 08:40
4 Allegro 06:32

Felix Blumenfeld String Quartet F major, op. 26

5 Allegro 06:41
6 Presto 05:40
7 Andantino 07:05
8 Finale. Allegro molto 07:39

  Total Time: 57:39

Carl Czerny - String Quartets (2015)

Composer: Carl Czerny (1791-1857)
Performer : Sheridan Ensemble
Label: Capriccio
Release: May 2015

This is an important release of Carl Czerny's string quartet cycle. It is only believe that Czerny composed about 20 of string quartets as mentioned in Wikipedia. Not much details is known afterward. The only famous is String Quartet in C minor, edited by Bernard Pauler only in 2006. Apparently now, a project to recorded some of Czerny's quartets is on the way. We got a beautiful 2 CD of the quartets done by Sheridan Ensemble. As the book notes :

Known as a piano teacher, with whose works almost every piano pupil should be familiar and possibly also as a pupil of Beethoven, Carl Czerny enjoys practically no fame as a composer today. The composing maniac (round about 800 published works) acquired a great reputation (and wealth) from piano teaching and writing educational works for the piano and compositions the market expected from him and from which he earned a lot of money. At the moment, seven quartets are recorded, four of which were probably intended for publication. Czerny composed in the tradition of Haydn and Beethoven. Echoes of Mendelssohn can be discerned as well as a romantic style full of drama and profundity of expression. The quartets have only been passed down as manuscripts from Czernys estate, which can be found in the archives of the Society of Friends of Music in Vienna. 

Seven quartets being recorded! So, we'll see at least one more volume of Carl Czerny's quartet. Sample can be heard on Sheridan Ensemble website. As the website suggest, Sheridan Ensemble is found by cellist Anna Carewe and probably based in Germany (?) and they are not exclusively string quartet but rather, an ensemble.

FULL REVIEW: (February 2016 Updated)
String Quartet in A minor - this is rather standard quartet with very strong melody starting since movement one. The 1st movement is ten minutes long mainly dominated by 1st violin theme and melody. 2nd movement started in andante with 1st violin fully lead the melody from start to end, rather straightforward one. The 3rd movement vivace break the ice with stormy conversation between all four voices. Same thing to the 4th movement, the finale quasi presto. It's begin with crescendo of melody exchanged between, supposedly, 1st and 2nd violin.
String Quartet in D minor - no doubt this is the strongest quartet in the package. The 1st movement started sentimentally with the cello. The minor melody added more sadness to the piece. The main theme is very strong. More dramatic elements in 2nd movement, scherzo, allegro molto, All the instruments throw in their parts, creating very dynamic song. The 2nd movement divided in the middle where the slower tempo kicks in. The slow movement of the third serves as in between song and prepared us for the finale. The finale is another distinguished theme melodic, as usual for Czerny, gradually developed into fantastic finale movement.
String Quartet in D Major - the opening is the main theme, a staccato downward melody. From this small part of idea, Czerny improvised it and the movement lasted for about nine minutes. 2nd movement, Andantino, is rather sweet one, not too minor in nature as in previous two quartets. 3rd movement Scherzo Molto vivace is the interlude where the four instruments seem racing each other in melodious way. I like the finale for this one. The introduction is catchy ears and will rise your curiosity to know the whole piece.
String Quartet in E Minor - Is Czerny the master of minor key quartet? This last quartet is yet another minor scale exploration. Very slow 2nd movement, Andante poco sostenuto,  contrasting to the 3rd one, in Scherzo form, where it is quite intense. As for the finale, and last track on this double CD, Czerny presented to us another superbly composed climax movement.
On a whole, I just witness one of the greatest melody in all four string quartets.Carl Czerny seem like never run out of excellent melody, right from the beginning to make every movements really stand out in their own. Just a few listening you will familiar with all of them. One of the best string quartet revelation to our knowledge in Romantic era repertoire by Czerny. The Sheridan Ensemble of course responsible for this very dynamic interpretation. Their recording bring in very warm string tone. Fit well with the quartets they played.

Carl Czerny - String Quartets  WORLD PREMIERE
Sheridan Ensemble - BUY IT HERE
CD 1
1. String Quartet in A Minor: I. Allegro espressivo ma animato
2. String Quartet in A Minor: II. Andante espressivo
3. String Quartet in A Minor: III. Scherzo. Vivace
4. String Quartet in A Minor: IV. Finale. Quasi presto
5. String Quartet in D Minor: I. Allegro moderato
6. String Quartet in D Minor: II. Scherzo. Allegro molto
7. String Quartet in D Minor: III. Adagio
8. String Quartet in D Minor: IV. Finale. Allegro non troppo
CD 2
9. String Quartet in D Major: I. Allegro molto vivace e giocoso
10. String Quartet in D Major: II. Andantino quasi allegretto
11. String Quartet in D Major: III. Scherzo. Molto vivace
12. String Quartet in D Major: IV. Finale. Allegro vivace
13. String Quartet in E Minor: I. Allegro affetuoso
14. String Quartet in E Minor: II. Andante poco sostenuto
15. String Quartet in E Minor: III. Scherzo. Vivace - Trio. Un poco tranquillo
16. String Quartet in E Minor: IV. Finale. Allegro vivace

Christian Ernst Graf - Five String Quartets (2015)

Composer: Christian Ernst Graf (1723 – 1804)
Performer : Via Nova Quartet
Label: CPO
Release: May 2015

CPO has once again show their attention to unknown Classical era of string quartet pieces. Christian Ernst Graf, only known as German Kappelmeister and composer has been recorded to has at least six string quartets composition. Via Nova Quartet is the one who going to premiere his composition into a record. The CD notes said:

About Christian Ernst Graf (1723-1804) little is known, but we do have sources enabling an understanding of his music. Just prior to Graf's death, H. C. Koch published the most important music lexicon of his times. Like this lexicon, Graf's music documents the eventful stylistic developments from baroque to classicism. Graf's clear, intelligent music links all sorts of heterogeneous melodic ideas, sequences, varies or imitates them in playful alternation and provides contrast with chromatic counterparts. The Via Nova Quartet interprets his five string quartets on historical instruments. 

If you feeling a little bit familiar, Christian is the younger brother of more famous, Friedrich Hartmann Graf  (23 August 1727 – 19 August 1795) . Friedrich was also champion in chamber music, especially his flute quartet and flute concerto.

The exact tracks and information about this CD is also little known at the moment. Let's hope we can quickly heard this exciting neglected pieces.

Christian Ernts Graf - Five String Quartets