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Alexander Zemlinsky (1871-1942): Complete String Quartets / Brodsky Quartet

Album Summary

>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 1 in A major, Op. 4
>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 2, Op. 15
>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 3, Op. 19
>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 4, Op. 25
>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings in E minor
Composer

Notes & Reviews:

BBC Music Magazine, April 2015
[the String Quartet in E minor] is played with commitment and elegance. As for the numbered quartets, I was impressed by the Brodskys' forthright and uncompromising approach to the dark and desolate Fourth...Their version of the Third is also illuminating, presenting the first movement in a much more highly wrought Romantic manner than does other accounts.

Fanfare Magazine
Perhaps it's something to do with their own wide-ranging repertoire and finely-honed ability to move between idioms and sound-worlds, but the Brodskys really do work wonders with [No. 2's] slippery, uncompromising modernism... the balance between achieving blend and maintaining clarity, for instance, is masterfully realised in the ambiguous, shape-shifting middle stretches of this elusive single-movement work.

Financial Times, 7th February 2015
The Brodsky Quartet play with intensity compositions that chart a journey from the romantic to the modern.

Sunday Times, 15th February 2015
Zemlinsky is a vital, underestimated figure...The Brodskys do passionate justice to the four published quartets, composed between 1896 and 1936. They also offer a welcome premiere recording of the meaty E minor quartet.

In this recording of Alexander Zemlinsky's (1871-1942) complete String Quartets, the Brodsky Quartet gives fresh life to the composer's works, 'with a spirit so transformational you felt they were actually improving the world', as reported by The Strad after a recent concert performance. The four string quartets represent a journey through Zemlinsky's musical thought. The Brahmsian, youthful Quartet in A, op. 4 is generously proportioned and less earnest in mood than some earlier works. The Second Quartet, op. 15 echoes the composer's years of emotional crisis. Contrastingly, the Third Quartet, op. 19 appears to be a sarcastic protest against modernism, Zemlinsky exploiting a minimum of material to maximum effect. Having been blacklisted and his music declared 'degenerate', the Fourth Quartet, op. 25 (1936) only achieved its first public performance in 1967. It deploys a wealth of thematic ideas in a process of continual variation and metamorphosis that follows the outlines of sonata form. The String Quartet in E minor failed to pass its trial at the Viennese Tonkünstlerverein when first presented in 1893. Not published until 1997, it appears here on disc for the first time.

American Record Guide, July/August 2015
I reviewed the Escher Quartet's recording of the first two quartets (Nov/Dec 2014). Theirs is more overtly romantic, with a more muscular sound, but I grew to appreciate the Brodskys' more subdued approach. Here the emotions seem to be kept in check, left to simmer in the subconscious. To be honest, both performances are worth owning.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/04/2014-06/06/2014); Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/16/2014-06/18/2014).



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Works Details

>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 1 in A major, Op. 4
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/04/2014-06/06/2014)
  • Running Time: 30 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1896

>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 2, Op. 15
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/16/2014-06/18/2014)
  • Running Time: 25 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1913-1915

>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 3, Op. 19
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/04/2014-06/06/2014)
  • Running Time: 24 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1924

>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings no 4, Op. 25
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/16/2014-06/18/2014)
  • Running Time: 26 min. 23 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: 1936

>Zemlinsky, Alexander v. : Quartet for Strings in E minor
  • Notes: Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk (06/04/2014-06/06/2014)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic
  • Written: circa 1893