The Strad's experts evaluate the latest string recordings
Beethoven: String Quintets in E flat major op.4 & C major op.29, Fugue in D major op.137, Prelude and Fugue Fragment in D minor H40
Saturday, 01 May 2010
Endellion Quartet, David Adams (viola)
Warner Classics & Jazz 2564 68713-3
These performances have been somewhat closely but well caught by the engineers, and they demonstrate technical assurance, rhythmic drive and elegant shaping of the phrase alongside exemplary balance and blend. The players often bring orchestral sonorities to the texture of the C major String Quintet op.29, especially in the vividly realised ‘storm’ finale, with its lightning flashes and its simple, jocular contrasting sections. They paint the opening Allegro moderato in broad strokes, indulging in secure and polished repartee, and they play the richly ornate slow movement with spacious lyricism and expressive detail. Garfield Jackson’s velvety viola sound gains notable prominence in the trio section of the genial, Schubertian scherzo.
Under Andrew Watkinson’s dominant leadership, the players interpret Beethoven’s radical op.4 recasting for string quintet of his wind Octet op.103 with striking aplomb and unanimity of purpose, particularly the opening Allegro and jovial final Presto. They imbue the relaxed, serenade-like Andante with subtle dynamic detail and convey the humour occasioned by the rising staccato scale figure in the crisply articulated Menuetto, a scherzo in all but name. Intelligent accounts of the expansive D minor Prelude, with its subsequent fugal subject fragment, and the Fugue in D major op.137 conclude this interesting and unusual programme.
From the May 2010 issue. Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial.