Stenhammar Quartet

Debussy, Tailleferre, Ravel

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Albums pairing Claude Debussy's String Quartet in G minor and Maurice Ravel's String Quartet in F major have been quite common for decades, and due to this well-established programming practice, dating back to the days of the double-sided LP, the works are widely regarded as a complementary set, beyond the real musical similarities between them. However, for this Alba hybrid SACD release, the Stenhammar Quartet makes the Debussy and Ravel quartets serve as bookends for Germaine Tailleferre's little-known String Quartet, a work that shares much of their rich chromatic harmonies and twilight moods, but is considerably shorter in duration, more modest in its sonatina-like form, and far less frequently performed. Like Debussy's and Ravel's quartets, Tailleferre's String Quartet was her only work in the genre, and listeners might even feel it's all of a piece with them, even though it was composed in 1919, 26 years after Debussy wrote his and 16 years after Ravel. Yet by this late date, Tailleferre had generally eschewed impressionism, and as a member of the group Les Six, brought a certain wit and playfulness to her quartet that is notable in the third movement. Including Tailleferre with Debussy and Ravel is a terrific idea that provides a fresh perspective on their music and adds value to the running time of the usual Debussy/Ravel matchup.

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