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Spanish Classics - Arriaga: String Quartets

Release Date: 11/15/2005 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557628   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
Performer:  Mauro RossiMassimo SpadanoLuigi PiovanoDavid Quiggle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Boccherini
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Although not one of the most recognized names in Western music, that of Spanish (or more properly Basque) composer Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga (y Balzola) (1806?1826) is far better known now than a quarter century ago. Since a revival of interest in Arriaga?s work began in the late 19th century, his compositions have consistently earned high praise from the musical cognoscienti and there has been growing certainty that his premature death just before his 20th birthday signaled not only the loss of a brilliant composer, but also a significant link in the time Read more line of music history.

Because of his musical precocity (his first opera, Los esclavos felices , was written at the age of 11), Arriaga became known as ?The Spanish Mozart? (a posthumous title given the composer by Pascual Emilio Arietta). Arriaga?s reputation is grounded on a fistful of instrumental works (a fine symphony that has been likened to Schubert?s Fourth is among them) and the three string quartets offered here. But even though the exceptionally gifted Arriaga began to follow a musical path early in life, his musical fecundity was no match for that of the brilliant Salzburg Wunderkind.

Following initial musical studies in and around his native Bilbao, Arriaga left his native land while in his midteens to study in Paris. The three string quartets recorded here were published in 1824 under the title Premier Livre de quatours during Arriaga?s years in the French capital; at the time, he was a violin student of Pierre Baillot and a composition student of François-Joseph Fétis at the Conservatoire . Considering the fact that Arriaga was dead less than two years later, one can safely say that the quartets are from his musical maturity.

It would be difficult to imagine more assured and imaginative music flowing from the mind of anyone other than Mozart and perhaps Mendelssohn. But Arriaga?s quartets are not emulations of those of Mozart or anyone, for that matter. Arriaga?s imprimatur is visible (or audible) throughout by way of the unforced flow of his melodies, the deft and occasionally innovative handling of accompaniment, and his interest in chromaticism. The third (in E ? ) is the most technically developed and the second (in A) the most traditional. This leaves the first (in D Minor), which contains some interesting effects, including a minuet with guitar-like pizzicato effects and an Adagio section at the end that also does double duty as a bridge or introduction to the finale.

There are at least two additional recordings of these quartets, one on MDG with the Voces Quartet and the other on CRD with the Chilingirian Quartet, both modern-instrument performances. The MDG is on my shelves and is an excellent recording both musically and technically, not to mention the label?s fabled sound. This new release in the ?Spanish Classics? series from Naxos is?to my knowledge?the first on period instruments. It is a series of exceptionally drawn performances with credit going to the members of Camerata Boccherini (Massimo Spadano and Mauro Rossi, violins; David Quiggle, viola; Luigi Piovano, cello) for their readings, which are primus inter pares . There is a fine sense of flow in these brightly textured recordings and the ensemble?s exceptional sense of dialogue nicely augments the invigorating, warm, and sensitive interpretations.

FANFARE: Michael Carter
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 1 in D minor by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
Performer:  Mauro Rossi (Violin), Massimo Spadano (Violin), Luigi Piovano (Cello),
David Quiggle (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Boccherini
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1824; Spain 
Quartet for Strings no 2 in A major by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
Performer:  Mauro Rossi (Violin), Luigi Piovano (Cello), David Quiggle (Viola),
Massimo Spadano (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Boccherini
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1824; Spain 
Quartet for Strings no 3 in E flat major by Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga
Performer:  Massimo Spadano (Violin), Mauro Rossi (Violin), Luigi Piovano (Cello),
David Quiggle (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Camerata Boccherini
Period: Romantic 
Written: by 1824; Spain 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Beautiful String Quartets June 17, 2015 By Gail M. (Goleta, CA) See All My Reviews "These three quartets are very melodic, similar in style to early Schubert, but with less mystery and sadness. The playing and the recording are excellent. Very enjoyable chamber music!" Report Abuse
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