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Guridi: Complete String Quartets / Breton String Quartet

Guridi / Breton String Quartet
Release Date: 06/25/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573036  
Composer:  Jesus Guridi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Breton String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 55 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GURIDI String Quartet Nos. 1 and 2 Bretón Qrt NAXOS 8.573036 (55: 15)

Jesús Guridi (1886–1961) only completed two string quartets, though we know of at least one he wrote in his youth that was destroyed. It’s understandable, given that the medium doesn’t come equally well to all composers, even veteran ones such as Guridi was when he finished his acknowledged First Quartet in 1933.

The work as a whole suffers from an overindulgence in chordal writing, and Read more from competent but not arresting thematic material. Its style is generalized early 20th-century French, with some influences in shape and rhythm from Basque folk material. The opening movement in particular displays an inability to speak in a continuous language: it resolves into a series of moments between forced developments that don’t cohere, and ultimately lacks the kind of tension-and-release which is part of the tradition Guridi is striving for. The Scherzo comes off best, though its main theme takes far too long to arrive. The Adagio that follows is richly harmonized but not especially interesting, while the Finale’s rondo theme is, like the rest, rather dull.

Guridi’s Second Quartet wasn’t composed until 16 years later, in 1949. It could be considered in some respects an attempt to revisit the methods and manner of the earlier work, but from a viewpoint of later, greater knowledge. Certainly the thematic content is along similar lines but more strikingly contoured. The bridges in the opening movement are far shorter; and though the development section is still sometimes perfunctory, the handling of the individual instruments is more assured. It builds nicely to an expressive climax, with harmonization that recalls Enescu’s earlier chamber music. The other three movements are all considerably longer than in the First Quartet. The Adagio benefits from a level of intensity that is satisfying; and the Scherzo’s slow trio has the sound of an old Basque dance as set by Borodin. (Good, too, is the way the chords in the outer sections don’t sound heavy and overly used as in the First Quartet, but recall the guitar’s snap.) The work as a whole is strong enough to wish that Guridi had continued with further essays in the form.

The Bretón String Quartet is a bit raw at faster moments, but comes through with elegant, polished phrasing elsewhere. They certainly have the measure of both works, and perform with a satisfying sense of unity. The engineering is close, with a crispness that is not unpleasant, and helps define each performer’s contribution to the whole. Recommended, with reservations noted.

FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 1 in G major by Jesus Guridi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Breton String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1934; Spain 
Quartet for Strings no 2 in A minor by Jesus Guridi
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Breton String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1949; Spain 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Fine Recording  March 9, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "It was interesting to read through the comments of Arkivmusic's professional reviewer, who was less than enthusiastic about Jesus Guridi's String Quartet # 1, and didn't appear to be wildly ecstatic about Quartet # 2 either. As someone completely untrained in music and who simply enjoys listening, I am not about to challenge his technical criticisms. All I can say is that I found both string quartets to be very enjoyable and that the quality of the playing from the Breton' String Quartet to be first class. I did not detect much dissonance and (as far as I could tell) no atonality whatsoever, which to me are major pluses! These two quartets date from 1933 and 1949, respectively, so one will not hear overtones of the great Classical or Romantic Era composers. On the other hand, Guridi's writing presents pleasant, carefully constructed works which undoubtedly have their inspiration in Spanish folk music and are professionally crafted in a serious, impressive mode. Sr. Guridi's compositions may be 20th century, but by no means are they radical, angst-ridden excursions into the Musical Never-Never land of avant-garde compositions. I really liked the sound of this recording, and I can recommend it to anyone interested in a relatively unknown Spanish voice who has some nice things to say. As usual these days, Naxos has treated us to a technically excellent compact disk which has clarity and broad dynamics. In short, despite the reservations of the Arkivmusic reviewer (who may well be right in the abstract), Jesus Guridi's string quartets are well worth hearing." Report Abuse
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