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Kreisler, Zimbalist & Ysaye: String Quartets; Harmonies du Soir / Fine Arts Quartet

Audio Samples

>Kreisler, Fritz : Quartet for Strings in A minor
>Zimbalist, Efrem : Quartet for Strings in E minor
>Ysaÿe, Eugène : Harmonies du soir, for string quartet & orchestra, Op. 31

Album Summary

>Kreisler, Fritz : Quartet for Strings in A minor
>Zimbalist, Efrem : Quartet for Strings in E minor
>Ysaÿe, Eugène : Harmonies du soir, for string quartet & orchestra, Op. 31
Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

The legendary Fritz Kreisler and his friend Efrem Zimbalist were both ranked among the greatest violinists of their time, becoming household names in America in the 1920s. Their generation, however, regarded Eugène Ysaÿe as 'the master of us all'. These works all transcend mere virtuoso showmanship. Kreisler's Quartet is filled with emotion and unpredictable harmonic shifts, while the tender, sometimes hauntingly beautiful melodies in Zimbalist's Quartet hark back to the composer's Russian origins. Ysaÿe's Harmonies du soir emerges as a sensual chromatic journey towards a glorious musical sunrise.

"It was an inspired idea to programme music by three of the finest violinists of the last century...The Fine Arts Quartet rise with aplomb to [the Zimbalist's] many interpretative and technical challenges, sustaining a glorious richness of tone, coupled with a portamento-inflected cantabile espressivo that sits hand in glove with the music's Romantic opulence. Fine, bold engineering too." -BBC Music Magazine

"This curiosity links three virtuoso performer-composers, all friends, who in their day dominated the concert platform. Here, rather than flashy violin showpieces, we have examples of their work for string quartet and small orchestra. It's a positive festival of portamenti and queasy chromaticism." -The Observer

The Strad
'A skilfully crafted and beautiful four-movement score [Kreisler's String Quartet in A Minor] brought vividly to life by the Fine Arts Quartet, which, through its liberal use of vibrato, enhances the warmth on which the music thrives... This disc is a real discovery that I can recommend without reservation.'

Classical Lost and Found
Founded in 1946 the Fine Arts Quartet (FAQ) has gained a reputation as one of America's finest chamber ensembles, and their carefully judged interpretations of these quartets certainly show why. Many will find their more pragmatic approach to the Kreisler preferable to the other maudlin versions currently out there. As for the Ysa e, the FAQ and Philharmonic Orchestra of Europe strings under conductor Otis Kl÷ber deliver a stirring account of this arcane score.

Allmusic.com
Hats off to the Fine Arts Quartet for a daring program that delivers some real finds.

Audiophile Audition
The first violin part, here realized by Ralph Evans, enjoys a strong concertante presence, the texture's often approximating a concertino status. When the cello joins the violin in the first movement: Fantasia duet, we can almost hear Kreisler and Casals in the Brahms Double Concerto. The Scherzo chimes in spiccato figures a step away from Tambourin Chinois. The phrase endings virtually melt into Viennese schlag, the viola (Nicolo Eugelmi) plying his own version of an Eastern chant over a drone bass. The unassuming Romanze: Allegretto conveys an easy sentimentality, rather a Hollywood sweetness appropriate for a Nelson Eddy/Jeanette MacDonald lyric. The last movement, Retrospection (Rueckblick) canters rather gaily in rustic syncopations, reminiscent of Brahms when cavorting in a gypsy mode. The Fine Arts players indulge in rubato and generous old-world slides Kreisler likely assumed would be a matter of course.

David's Review Corner
In many ways his quartet sounds outdated for its 1919 date, though it is a delightful and readily likeable score we should hear more often. EugFne Ysa e was a father figure to both, and was regarded as the greatest of them all.

BBC Music Magazine
It was an inspired idea to programme music by three of the finest violinists of the last century... The Fine Arts Quartet rise with aplomb to its many interpretative and technical challenges, sustaining a glorious richness of tone, coupled with a portamento-inflected cantabile espressivo that sits hand in glove with the music's Romantic opulence.

Audiophilia
The Quartets... are... well-crafted and effective works with strong, meaty string sounds as you would expect from such players. The Fine Arts Quartet is on excellent form relishing the challenge and producing very polished performances.

Liverpool Daily Post
The Fine Arts Quartet give the full treatment to this rich saccharine music, and also include Ysaye's Harmonies de Soir for string quartet and orchestra, all real rarities.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Library of Wittem Monestery (Klooster Wittem), The Neth (04/27/2010-04/30/2010).



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Works Details

>Kreisler, Fritz : Quartet for Strings in A minor
  • Ensemble: Fine Arts Quartet
  • Notes: Library of Wittem Monestery (Klooster Wittem), The Netherlands (04/27/2010-04/30/2010)
  • Running Time: 29 min. 16 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Chamber Music

>Zimbalist, Efrem : Quartet for Strings in E minor
  • Notes: Library of Wittem Monestery (Klooster Wittem), The Netherlands (04/27/2010-04/30/2010)
  • Running Time: 12 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Chamber Music

>Eugène Ysaÿe (1858 - 1931) : Harmonies du soir, for string quartet & orchestra, Op. 31
  • Conductor: Otis Klöber
  • Notes: Library of Wittem Monestery (Klooster Wittem), The Netherlands (04/27/2010-04/30/2010)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 46 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Form: Concerto