Spohr At The Finish Line

Review by: Jed Distler

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Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 7

Those who’ve followed Marco Polo’s Louis Spohr string quartet cycle from its inception will know what to expect from this final installment. Both the A major and B minor quartets are extremely well written for the medium, contain lovely tunes all around with lots of chromatic surprises, and feature the first violin working overtime in the virtuosity department. Some of the Op. 61 Allegretto finale’s modulations are as fancifully discursive as Schubert’s, while the Op. 30 Adagio owes more than a little to Mozart’s K. 428 quartet.

However, original touches leap out, such as the Op. 30 Menuetto’s full-bodied pizzicato accompaniments, and the D minor Variations’ ingenuous yet formidably difficult figurations. In fact, the long Op. 61 opening Allegro might be described as a violin concerto that gives no respite whatsoever to the soloist! The Moscow Concertino Quartet doles out plenty of warmth and expressive nuance in the way of vibrato and portamento, although the rather grainy sonics exaggerate the ensemble’s timbral stridency in loud passages and occasional intonation problems. Still, the performances’ virtues largely outweigh the drawbacks: sample the well-controlled transitions and sustained soft playing in the lengthy yet consistently interesting Op. 30 finale to hear the Moscow musicians at their best. Self-recommending to Spohr fans.



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Recording Details:

Album Title: Complete String Quartets, Vol. 17
  • SPOHR, LOUIS:
    Quartet No. 10 in A major Op. 30; Quartet No. 18 in B minor Op. 61; Variations in D minor Op. 6

    Moscow Concertino Quartet


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