Notes and Editorial Reviews
"Written in the wake of his first hearing of Beethoven’s late Quartets, in Paris, the three String Quartets, opp. 54, 55 and 56 are supposed to represent Onslow’s response to the German’s works. Such was obviously Onslow’s surprise at Beethoven’s works that the Quartet, op.54 is hilarious! It’s full of the most wonderful musical jokes and it shows, as do the other two works under discussion here, a very free hand in the use of chromaticism. The first movement of opus 55 is all fire and passion, tempered by quieter moments of repose, and the following scherzo is skittish, with a very exciting use of silence, to great dramatic effect, with a trio, which appears twice, of total humour,. This is marvellous stuff indeed and totally
compelling. A richly scored slow movement, full of passion and longing, gives way to a finale of great spirit, urgency and energy, much in the manner of the first movement, and abrupt silences slice across the music creating great excitement. This is a wonderful quartet and deserves to be heard often. Although the opus 56 Quartet has some of the fire of the other two works on this disk, there is more elegance to the music. This is a splendid achievement of the melding of violent music with the tenderest of ideas, until the finale which is a real barnstorming effort.
The performances of the Diotima Quartet are as perfect as one could wish – their advocacy, and obvious delight in this music, is evident in every bar, and they observe every repeat. Although Onslow was called the French Beethoven, there’s much more to him that being a mere torch-carrier and it’s good to have such a marvellous exposition of his music as this. The sound is crisp and clear and the presentation in a gatefold sleeve, with a booklet which slips nicely into the inside of the front portion, is very attractive. This is well worth having for anyone interested in chamber music, in what happened after Beethoven, or simply for anyone who enjoys good music."
-- Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International
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