October 22nd 2008

Review from October 2003


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Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
String Quartet No. 1 (1906) [29.01]
String Quartet No. 3 (1926) [30.35]
Maggini Quartet
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, England, 18-20 June 2002
NAXOS 8.557133 [59.35]



Sound Sample: Quartet No. 1 1st Movement
Adagio - Allegro appassionato

Sound Sample: Quartet No. 1 2nd Movement
Adagio molto

Sound Sample: Quartet No. 1 3rd Movement Allegretto grazioso - Animato

Sound Sample: Quartet No. 1 4th Movement Allegro agitato - Allegro moderato - Adagio molto


The Magginis mean business; that is the unequivocal message hearing this disc. The attack and unshakeable commitment of the players positively leaps out of the speakers at you. Their technical skill whether in the flood of intensity or the subtler voicings and interplay is never in doubt.

The First Quartet dates from 1906,a work written by the 27 year old composer for the Bologna competition. This is music caught in the confident high tide of the romantic sea. It resembles that of early Zemlinsky and Karl Weigl (such a pity the Arttis were never able to complete their Weigl cycle for Nimbus - will anyone rescue that series). The whole work projects warmth and affection - a tribute to the Magginis.

Ah but then the remorseless pages are turned and we come to a world changed by The Great War - or at least A Great War. That war progressively snuffed out the innocence from his music and injected scorch and rancour. The Third Quartet has about it a clarity, spareness and desolation. This is the dark side of the moon by comparison with the first two quartets. The scene is an almost palpable picture of deserted trench networks and the dead hanging in the looms of wire. That said the Magginis in the central movement superbly capture a touchingly wistful lament. Lovely playing.

Sound Sample: Quartet No. 2 1st Movement Andante moderato - Allegro moderato

Sound Sample: Quartet No. 2 2nd Movement Andante con moto

Sound Sample: Quartet No. 2 3rd Movement Allegro energico

This layout nicely assuages the acerbities of the New Viennese Bridge with the young romantic headstrong innocent of the pre-war quartets.

With the Magginis nothing seems impossible. I can imagine them setting down the complete Van Dieren quartets in a few years time.

This disc goes right to the top of the recommendations for its scorching ripeness and sentiment.

Rob Barnett




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