Signum Quartett

Ludwig Thuille: String Quartets

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Ludwig Thuille was an associate and friend of Richard Strauss and a student of and successor to Joseph Rheinberger as a counterpoint teacher. He didn't just come in on the conservative side of Viennese music around 1880 but, on the evidence of the one complete and one incomplete string quartets recorded here, might be classed as a wholesale reactionary. Annotator Susanne Ziese (her notes are in German, English, and French) tries to align him with the Brahms faction, but the music sounds like Brahms only in spots, and even Rheinberger's dense chamber style is little in evidence. The basic models are Schubert, especially evident in the lengthy lyrical turns toward the submediant and mediant, and even Haydn (sample the Quasi presto finale of the String Quartet No. 1 in A major). As played by Germany's Signum Quartet the music is certainly pleasant. But both of these are student works, not too different from others written in Austrian or German conservatories of the time, and they make an odd choice for the project of rescuing Thuille from obscurity. (He wrote a couple of operas that he pitched as competition for Wagner, and these might be worth a turn through the historical gallery.) The quartets are nicely played and recorded, but they're of most interest to close examiners of the Viennese scene.

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