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Berg: String Quartet, Lyric Suite; Wolf: Italian Serenade

Release Date: 06/26/2007 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557374   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alban BergHugo Wolf
Performer:  Helene PohlDouglas BeilmanGillian AnsellRolf Grelsten
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 57 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Perhaps it's the passage of time, or it's simply the New Zealand String Quartet's embracing, unselfconscious style and illuminating technique, but the atonal sounds of Alban Berg's String Quartet Op. 3 sure seem a lot closer to late-19th century romanticism than they did 40 or so years ago when listeners in my generation first paid attention to Berg's music. And since the work was written almost 100 years ago, that's as it should be, as is the fact that it's now much easier to get past the larger and still-challenging sonic picture to appreciate the inner textural and motivic details.

Of course, our ability to really hear and follow what's going on depends on the performance--and
Read more these four musicians may be the best on disc (surpassing the Leipzig and Pražák quartets) in all-important matters of linear clarity, dynamic shading, and sustaining the developmental tension throughout Op. 3's two long, difficult movements. In the Lyric Suite, ensemble unanimity and precision in the increasingly fast odd-numbered movements is critical, and the New Zealanders not only accomplish this but also never forget the intrinsic drama and emotional intensity that haunts this music, especially impressive in the Allegro misterioso and Adagio appassionato movements at the heart of the work.

Indeed, as you listen to these works afresh, you not only marvel at the individual players' virtuosity, but you also have to appreciate that the relatively warm yet pleasingly "edgy" quality to the sound and the oneness of spirit in the interpretations come from the highest-order functioning of the well-integrated collective parts of a mature, vital body--that is, a string quartet that's been together a long time, each member sharing life and breath in the music they make together. This is one reason we listen to the great string quartets--and besides the chance to hear Berg's fascinating and formidable scores again, that's the reason you shouldn't miss this extraordinary recording.

--David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings, Op. 3 by Alban Berg
Performer:  Helene Pohl (Violin), Douglas Beilman (Violin), Gillian Ansell (Viola),
Rolf Grelsten (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1910; Austria 
Venue:  Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univ., Welli 
Length: 21 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Notes: Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univ., Wellington, NZ (11/22/2004 - 11/24/2004) 
Lyric Suite for String Quartet by Alban Berg
Performer:  Gillian Ansell (Viola), Douglas Beilman (Violin), Rolf Grelsten (Cello),
Helene Pohl (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1926; Austria 
Venue:  Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univ., Welli 
Length: 28 Minutes 31 Secs. 
Notes: Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univ., Wellington, NZ (11/22/2004 - 11/24/2004) 
Serenade for String Quartet in G major "Italian Serenade" by Hugo Wolf
Performer:  Rolf Grelsten (Cello), Gillian Ansell (Viola), Douglas Beilman (Violin),
Helene Pohl (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univ., Welli 
Length: 6 Minutes 56 Secs. 
Notes: Adam Concert Room, Victoria Univ., Wellington, NZ (11/22/2004 - 11/24/2004) 

Sound Samples

String Quartet, Op. 3: I. Langsam
String Quartet, Op. 3: II. Massige Viertel
Lyric Suite: I. Allegretto gioviale
Lyric Suite: II. Andante amoroso
Lyric Suite: III. Allegro misterioso
Lyric Suite: IV. Adagio appassionato
Lyric Suite: V. Presto delirando
Lyric Suite: VI. Largo desolato
Serenade in G major, "Italienische Serenade" (Italian Serenade): Italian Serenade

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