Melos Quartett Stuttgart

Luigi Cherubini: The String Quartets

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Open-minded listeners looking for unfamiliar string quartets by a master composer of the same period as Beethoven and Schubert will likely be delighted by the six quartets of Luigi Cherubini. Written mostly between 1829 and 1837, the Italian-French composer's quartets are in the standard forms in the usual four movements. He fills those forms with entirely new content, which, if not as vigorously argued as Beethoven's nor as gloriously lyrical as Schubert's, is nevertheless elegantly expressive, consummately dramatic, and often utterly unexpected. Cherubini's quartets have received occasional recordings, but none have matched this set from Germany's Melos Quartet. Originally issued on Deutsche Grammophon in the late '70s and reissued by Brilliant in 2009, the Melos Quartet's Cherubini is robust but not overly muscular, tender but not overly sweet, and rhythmic but not overly driven. Best of all, the interpretations are wholly appropriate, catching the composer's unique fusion of high classical forms with early Romantic content. Recorded in lush stereo, this three-disc set deserves to be heard by anyone who enjoys chamber music from the early years of the 19th century.

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