Jerusalem Quartet

Debussy: Quatuor, Op. 10; Ravel: Quatuor

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The String Quartet in G minor of Claude Debussy and the String Quartet in F major of Maurice Ravel are frequently paired because of their formal similarities, their shared fin de siècle melancholy, and comparable technical demands, and they have been treated as companion pieces on numerous albums. Debussy composed his string quartet in 1893, and Ravel structured his work along similar lines, finishing it in 1903, so in spite of the decade that passed between the works, there was a conscious connection that was reinforced by the composers' mutual admiration. This 2018 Harmonia Mundi release by the Jerusalem Quartet primarily marks the centennial of Debussy's death, and is part of the label's efforts to honor the composer with first-rate recordings of his key works. The Jerusalem Quartet's playing on this CD is warm and expressive, with smooth phrasing and a textural lushness that suggests the feeling of impressionism without purposely blurring the music. The Ravel shares the Debussy quartet's poignant mood and rich tone, though the performance has more of an edge, particularly in the pizzicato sections of the second movement and the energetic finale. The reproduction is clear and resonant with credible physical presence, thanks to Harmonia Mundi's balanced engineering.

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