Debussy: String Quartet; Ravel: String Quartet

Dante Quartet

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Debussy: String Quartet; Ravel: String Quartet Review

by James Leonard

As its repertoire expands, the Dante Quartet's recordings get better and better. In its second disc for Hyperion, the English ensemble has coupled the quartets of Debussy and Ravel with Ravel's Second Violin Sonata in powerfully passionate yet completely controlled performances. Though these qualities may seem at first inappropriate for works by the two masters of French Impressionism, the readings are in fact absolutely appropriate for these strongly emotional early quartets. Lead by first violinist Krysia Osostowicz, the Dante Quartet tears into both works with undisguised ardor, delivering extremely impressive accounts of Debussy's Andantino, doucement expressif, Ravel's "Trés lent," and especially his "Vif et agité." In some ways, even better is Osostowicz's performances of Ravel's Violin Sonata with pianist Simon Crawford-Phillips. Her slashing attacks in the central "Blues," and her vivacious assault on the closing "Perpetuum mobile" are wonderfully exciting, and his forceful accompaniments are wholly sympathetic. Recorded in rich, digital sound, this is a first-rate addition to the Dante Quartet's discography.

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