Arriaga Quartets/Avenira 10 C

Review by: ClassicsToday

Artistic Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 10

Sadly, it doesn’t take much room to sketch out the short life of little-known Basque composer Juan Crisóstomo Jacobo Antonio Arriaga y Balzola. He was born in 1806, wrote an octet at age 11, composed his first opera when he was 13, entered the Paris Conservatory at age 15, and had the three works heard here published when he was 18. He died in 1826 at age 20.

The promise that he showed as a composer did not go completely unnoticed during his lifetime (Bellini championed his music), but very little of his music endures in the modern era. Aside from these quartets and a symphony recorded by Charles Mackerras for Hyperion, his work is largely lost to the sands of time. But these lovely quartets, given fresh and impassioned readings by the New Vlach Quartet, should make us aware of what he could have achieved if only he had lived longer. They are sparkling, emotionally mature, and beautifully shaped works that fully explore the nuances of each voice within the quartet. (The balance of sound is spread equally between the four players as well, and Avenira has done a fine job of creating a vibrant atmosphere.) Bravo to the New Vlach Quartet, and to Avenira, for this release. This is truly a treat, and I can only wish there could be more.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: this one

JUAN CRISOSTOMO ARRIAGA - String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, & 3

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