Monday, April 27, 2015

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

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