Beautiful and Finely crafted String Quartets.
bonerfly | NY | 05/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'll start this review with a "blasphemous" sentence.
These 8 Quartets are every bit as fine and Important 20th century Quartets as Shostakovich, Bartok or Janacek's.
Not as abstract as Bartok, nor as angst ridden as Shostakovich or as "odd" as Janacek, but Bright, sunny, and completely tonal while still being thoroughly modern 20th century music.
It is said Malipiero started composing these Quartets after hearing Stravinsky's Rite Of Spring for the first time. Changed his entire style of composing.
After many listenings, I get it.
They are melodious, they are imaginative, they soar, they shimmer.
Not a boring moment, not a note out of place.
A consistantly Great cycle.
The Orpheus Quartet is on a short list of the World's best String Quartets.
Here they turn in an outstanding performance.
Great phrasing, virtuosity, ensemble and dynamic.
The sound quality is as Good as it gets.
Warmth, great front to back depth, and a transparency that allows air and space between the instruments and notes. Everything is heard with great clarity.
Now...I've read the review of the only other complete cycle by the Venice String Quartet.
They compared them to the Orpheus basically as being more "Venice" and not as "glassy"(German) as Orpheus.
Well, The Italian Venice Quartet should be a bit more "idiomatic" in Italian music than a German Quartet. But that shouldn't deride just plain great playing. Should it?
But I have no comparison as I've never heard the other CD.
That's mainly because it's been Out Of Print and Unavailable for YEARS!.
Impossible to find a copy ANYWHERE on the Net.
So right off the bat, Orpheus has a distinct advantage.
Theirs is the ONLY cycle Available. ANYWHERE.
But even theirs is Rare and pricey.
But well worth it if you want a FINE performance of these Fine Beautiful Quartets.
Without having heard the other version, I say these are wonderful and Very much fine enough for me.
This set is Highly Recommended.
Probably so even if I had heard The Venice String Quartet cycle.
It's that GOOD!
I held off buying this CD for 2 years, due to the $60.00+ price. Then a copy appeared here for Less (not much less), so I finally broke down and got it. It wasn't an easy decision. $50 something dollars is a lot of money for a double CD.
But I now see it will be well worth it as I have years of great listening pleasure ahead of me.
When I think of all the money I've spent on CDs that didn't last the test of time or even a couple of listenings,...Well this just equals the price of maybe 4 of those CDs I'll never listen to again.
Thus, in my mind, a better value.
Marvelous masterpieces for the String Quartet genre
JSS | Washington, DC | 12/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is an enigma to me the classical music world has yet to fully embrace the musical mind of Malipiero, arguably the most unique of all twentieth century Italian composers, even Respighi. These beautifully crafted quartets are little gems, that are, collectively, a twentieth-century masterpiece of the medium. Ardent quartet enthusiasts will appreciate the fascinating horizontal nature Malipiero employs, perhaps reflecting the copious hours editing the Monteverdis and Frescobaldis of Italian musical history. Where a repeating melody might capture our attention, Malipiero instead keeps the mind occupied by using ephemeral bursts of jaunty interplay between violin and cello, or lush, flowing paths leading to anything but predictability. Others may have aimed for lucid form; Malipiero followed the whims of his spirit.
These quartets share similarities between the angularity of Janacek's and the modernity of Bartok's, but where Malipiero differs is in the witticism of his gifted style and the sudden respites of smooth, singing lines from the steely sonances.
This particular album is a treasure for Malipiero enthusiasts. It is far clearer and recent a recording of Malipiero than the Almeida symphony recordings. Though there is a push to produce more of his music onto recordings, that trend isn't developing fast enough. Only just recently did the CPO label release his piano concerti.
In close, you may not have heard much from Malipiero, but you should have. And you would be remiss should you not listen to these marvelous pieces."