Amati Quartet

Haydn: String Quartets, Op. 77

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The recordings here by Switzerland's Amati Quartet appear to have been compiled from various sources; they date from 1987, 1988, and 1993, and were made in different locations. The two contemporary Swiss compositions are linked in that each was dedicated to the Amati Quartet, and both are of moderate interest for lovers of the modern string quartet. Hermann Haller was a student of Nadia Boulanger before World War II and attended lectures by Hindemith after the war; his String Quartet No. 3 (1992), in a single movement, more resembles the latter's music in its tightly woven, economical but not inexpressive counterpoint. This work features two Amati Quartet members who do not appear in the other selections. The string quartet Klangexpressionen (meaning Color Expressions, and the German title has been hilariously butchered in the database employed by some download services) by Wladimir Vogel, as the title suggests, reflects the influence of Scriabin. The notes appearing on the package of the U.S. release describe the work as scored for two speakers and string quartet (the piece is apparently drawn from music for a radio play inspired by the Mikhail Bulgakov novel The Master and Margarita), but what is played here has no text. It's an elegant homage to an original composer who has had few followers. The two Haydn string quartets of Op. 77 are accurately played, but with a by-the-book quality, and for those interested in these works there are plenty of other places to go. The sonics of the three different recording locations are quite different, but the contemporary pieces differ from the two Haydn string quartets, and from each other, so much that you're not likely to notice the shift.

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