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Cherubini: Complete String Quartets / Quartetto Savinio


Release Date: 06/10/2008 
Label:  Stradivarius   Catalog #: 33800   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Lorenzo CerianiFrancesco SolombrinoAlberto Maria RutaRossella Bertucci
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 2 Hours 38 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



CHERUBINI String Quartets: Nos. 1–6 Savinio Qrt STRADIVARIUS 33800 (2 CDs: 158:27)


As is so often the case, Robert Schumann had the first and the last word: the notes tell us that he admired “the restlessness of form, the lively development, the seismic core” of Cherubini’s quartets. These six works are difficult to describe; they can be melodically undistinguished and are at times formally obtuse, yet they make a potent impact, especially when taken together. They are too unique to be compared to any Read more familiar models, and it is their density that makes them so unusual. There is some evidence of Beethoven, and hints of Schubert’s darker moments, but several movements resemble no other music written by Cherubini—or anyone else. The writing gives a nod to French quartet style by featuring the first violin, but one never gains that impression from listening, as so much else is going on. Like Arriaga’s quartets, they look forward to Romanticism and back to Classicism, yet do not quite fit in either world. Perhaps that “not quite” is a part of their fascination; they are slow to reveal their secrets, relinquishing a bit more of their substance at every hearing—for me, over the course of many years and four sets of complete recordings, plus an occasional single. As with Beethoven’s late quartets, we cannot expect to conquer them completely, nor develop a convincing analysis.


For decades, the Melos Quartet on Deutsche Grammophon’s Archive Series was the only game in town; it played the notes admirably but did not extract much music. Two sets appeared in the late 1990s: Hausmusik London play period instruments, which offer a fine sonority for the works, but I find the playing weak and the musical vision unconvincing. Quartetto David on BIS offers a more conventional sonority, playing as well as the Melos and coming to grips with the music more successfully than the other ensembles.


The Savinio squeezes the six quartets onto two long CDs by ignoring exposition repeats and playing movements virtually attacca . The latter bothers me more than the former, but you are hereby notified. It also lacks the rich harmonic palette of the David, but I like its character equally well. The four musicians tear into the music aggressively, bringing it to life as the others have not. The less-homogenized ensemble and the dryer recorded sound enable us to perceive more of the internal details, benefiting the many contrapuntal pages. The Second Quartet, a near-transcription of Cherubini’s only symphony (with a different slow movement), is more lyrical, less complex music than the other quartets, and would seem to be easier to play. The Savinio is less successful with it than elsewhere, concentration and discipline suffering from a laissez-faire approach. Despite all these quibbles, I prefer this set to any of the earlier ones. The David Quartet, abetted by BIS’s rich, sweet recorded sound, may be a safer recommendation, but I urge adventurous listeners to take a chance on the Savinio. One way or another, every chamber-music-lover must have Cherubini’s intriguing quartets on hand.

FANFARE: James H. North


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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 in E flat major by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Lorenzo Ceriani (Cello), Francesco Solombrino (Viola), Alberto Maria Ruta (Violin),
Rossella Bertucci (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; France 
Length: 27 Minutes 36 Secs. 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 2 in C major by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Lorenzo Ceriani (Cello), Francesco Solombrino (Viola), Alberto Maria Ruta (Violin),
Rossella Bertucci (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: ?1829; France 
Length: 26 Minutes 23 Secs. 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 3 in D minor by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Rossella Bertucci (Violin), Alberto Maria Ruta (Violin), Francesco Solombrino (Viola),
Lorenzo Ceriani (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1834; France 
Length: 27 Minutes 24 Secs. 
4.
Quartet for Strings no 4 in E major by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Lorenzo Ceriani (Cello), Francesco Solombrino (Viola), Alberto Maria Ruta (Violin),
Rossella Bertucci (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1835; France 
Length: 27 Minutes 9 Secs. 
5.
Quartet for Strings no 5 in F major by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Lorenzo Ceriani (Cello), Francesco Solombrino (Viola), Alberto Maria Ruta (Violin),
Rossella Bertucci (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1835; France 
Length: 22 Minutes 11 Secs. 
6.
Quartet for Strings no 6 in A minor by Luigi Cherubini
Performer:  Rossella Bertucci (Violin), Alberto Maria Ruta (Violin), Francesco Solombrino (Viola),
Lorenzo Ceriani (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Savinio String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1837; France 
Length: 25 Minutes 21 Secs. 

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