Notes and Editorial Reviews
MUSICA FICTA MF8004 (53:38)
André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry (1741?1813) was best known for his numerous operas during his lifetime. He wrote little else after hitting his stride, so presumably this youthful collection of six quartets was intended as a group of musical calling cards; no other reason has been adduced for their existence. They take the form of the Parisian
, in which all four instruments take an active and frequently equal part in the ensemble. Despite this, the shape of each quartet is unique, following the examples of Cambini and Boccherini: one, for example, is in two movements, its first an allegro sandwiching a minuet, while another quartet starts with a slow movement, moves to an
, and concludes with a fugue. The musical content in all cases is primitive for its time, far more so than the sophisticated quartets of Boccherini or Brunetti, with the fugue movements in particular on the level of short, competent, but uninspired student exercises. There?s even the possibility they were created as such, though as a whole these quartets aren?t without moderate charm.
The Quatuor Thaïs members adopt a vibratoless tone for these performances. They may also be using original instruments or modern copies, given the sound in particular of the cello and viola, but no information is provided on this. At times, I found their playing harsh and their phrasing wooden, but the more energetic
movements (such as the central
to the First Quartet, and the final
to the Fifth) brought energy and thrust to their music-making. They still sound too impersonal, with little give-and-take among all four musicians, but they?re certainly owed points for investigating unusual repertoire.
Sound quality and balance between the instruments is very good; timings are on the short side. Recommended for those interested in the repertoire.
FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
Works on This Recording
Quartets (6) for Strings, Op. 3 by André Modeste Grétry
Thaïs String Quartet
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