Michael Stirling / Utrecht String Quartet

Glazunov: String Quartets, Vol. 3

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The program for the third volume in the Utrecht Quartet's survey of the complete string quartets of Alexander Glazunov consists of two works slightly outside the composer's five quartets: the five-movement Suite for string quartet and the Quintet for string quartet plus second cellist. As in the group's previous volumes, the sonorities are appropriately lush, the vibrato is aptly wide, and the interpretations are straight from the heart. But the Utrecht's players are also highly attentive to the felicities of Glazunov's craft, and the composer's characteristically powerful forms and cogent developments are strongly articulated and persuasively argued in their performances. Thus the group is as convincing in the Suite's delectable central Orientale as it is in the Quintet's rhetorical outer Allegros. Longtime Glazunov fans already familiar with the Shostakovich Quartet's '70s recordings of these works will surely miss that group's keener sense of the composer's personal style -- its unique fusion of lyrical beauty, brilliant intellectuality, and technical virtuoso -- in their sweetly soulful, deeply idiomatic performances. But they will likewise surely appreciate Musikproduktion Dabringhaus und Grimm's clear, cool digital sound over the harsh immediacy of Soviet-era stereo sound.

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