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Fauré, Franck: String Quartets / Dante Quartet

Release Date: 08/12/2008 
Label:  Hyperion   Catalog #: 67664   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  César FranckGabriel Fauré
Performer:  Bernard Gregor-SmithJudith BusbridgeKrysia OsostowiczGiles Francis
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dante Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 7 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

FRANCK String Quartet. FAURÉ String Quartet Dante Qrt HYPERION 67664 (67:21)

The Dante Quartet seems preternaturally conscious of the textures they create as they harmonize. In the Franck, it is not simply that every part is alive, singing, and playing to the others—the same may be said of the superb Fitzwilliam Quartet’s performance (Decca Eloquence 476 8463, Fanfare 30:2)—but that the Read more tout ensemble of the whole , as one wit put it, becomes a sonorous shimmering incandescence in which the work’s very soul seems revealed. Franck’s melodic generosity is realized con amore , from delicious dolcissimo turns to stringent drama, animating the Quartet’s inner richness and propelling its narrative unfolding. This is the most highly inflected and caressingly sensuous performance—of anything—ever to cross my path. This is emphatically not a tic or gimmick but the ultimate finesse. In relation to the Fitzwilliam’s account, the Dante is even warmer, delivering a tauter—conversational yet impassioned—performance without hustle, while Hyperion’s close yet vocally distinct and detailed sound is one-up on Decca’s still more than serviceable 1980 recording. But more can at times be less.

In the Fauré, those virtues, which bring such vibrant life to the Franck, occlude the Fauré Quartet’s stringently spare linearity, as the Dante’s sanguinary jauntiness banishes the Quartet’s clairvoyant ethereality. Indeed, it is in an exacting balance of ethereality and propulsiveness that the work reveals its most intimate secrets—a desideratum one might have to go back to the Pro Arte Quartet, as it was in 1935 (Onnou, Halleux, Prévost, Maas—Biddulph LAB 105), or the Loewenguth Quartet on an LP collection of French string quartets for Vox—SVBX 570—from maybe 40 years ago, to have realized. But perhaps because we know that the Quartet was Fauré’s final work, and have read wrenching accounts of the frailty of his last years, we hear in it delicate gradations of illumination as imagined gates of light swing wide. The Dante seems to have approached the work in the spirit of Yeats: “An aged man is but a paltry thing, A tattered coat upon a stick, unless Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing for every tatter in its mortal dress . . .”. And it may be that in prolonged acquaintance it will come to seem revelatory and right, for the Dante’s account certainly possesses an interpretive slant thoroughly realized. Richly informed liner notes by Roger Nichols confect a final elegance. Even if you never cared greatly for the Franck, hearing this you may change your mind. Admiringly recommended.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings in D major, M 9 by César Franck
Performer:  Bernard Gregor-Smith (Cello), Judith Busbridge (Viola), Krysia Osostowicz (Violin),
Giles Francis (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dante Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1889; France 
Quartet for Strings in E minor, Op. 121 by Gabriel Fauré
Performer:  Bernard Gregor-Smith (Cello), Krysia Osostowicz (Violin), Giles Francis (Violin),
Judith Busbridge (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dante Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1923-1924; France 

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