The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
Franz Liszt, writing about Grieg's String Quartet No 1, declared: 'It is long time since I have encountered a new composition, especially a string quartet, which has intrigued me as greatly as this distinctive and admirable work by Grieg'. Grieg himself said that his quartet '… aims at breadth; to soar, and above all at a vigorous sound for the instruments for which it is written.' In 1891, Edvard Grieg started his second quartet, but sadly lacked inspiration and time to finish the last two movements. Levon Chilingirian of the Chilingirian Quartet has studied the original manuscripts of the first two movements (which have many clarifying instructions added by Julius Röntgen in preparation for their printing by C F Peters in 1908) and prepared the third and fourth movements especially for this recording. This is therefore a first recording of the completed String Quartet No 2.
On its debut CD, KNEE DEEP IN THE NORTH SEA, Mercury Prize-nominated combo the Portico Quartet delivers an unusually meditative brand of world music-influenced jazz that matches a minimalist classical music vibe with a pop/jam band-informed compositional sense. Centered on repeated figures played on the hang (a type of steel drum) and soprano saxophonist Jack Wylie’s Wayne Shorter-esque improvisational explorations, Portico Quartet’s music should appeal to fans of Weather Report and the Dave Matthews Band alike.
Two years after “Restored, Returned” introduced this line-up and with extensive touring behind them, on “The Well” the four musicians of the Gustavsen Quartet really blossom as a band in a programme of new tunes by Tord. Sax player Tore Brunborg is given an important voice here, his melodic lines combining bluesy sonority and Nordic cry. Gently but effectively propelled by the subtle pulses of drummer Jarle Vespestad and bassist Mats Eilertsen, Gustavsen’s gospel-tinged, unhurried piano playing displays a characteristic warmth and tenderness.
Reissue with the latest remastering and the original cover artwork. Comes with a description written in Japanese. A killer Dutch duo from the end of the 70s – tenorist Harry Verbeke, who's got a bold, clear sound – and pianist Rob Agerbeek, who's been making soulful sides from the 60s onwards! The pair get great accompaniment here from drummer Billy Higgins and bassist Herbie Lewis – the last of whom may be at his best here – with these well-placed, well-rounded lines that help the record groove right from the start – and which give the record a nice bounce, even in gentler moments – followed up strongly by Agerbeek and his strong sense of chord progressions. Most tunes are familiar, but get nice readings by the group – and titles include "Gibraltar, "Holy Land", "Soul Sister", "No Me Esqueca", and "No Problem".
The Aeolian Quartet's epic cycle, originally released in the Seventies, was one of the gramophone's major contributions to Haydn's cause. Listening to the performances anew I find they have lost none of their freshness: they were based on the latest research, and the playing itself is always intelligent and thoughtful, with Emanuel Hurwitz's sweet-toned violin-playing a great asset throughout. (Misha Donat)