No lack of character but occasional deviations from the score

Dudok Quartet Amsterdam: Tchaikovsky

The Strad Issue: June 2024

Description: No lack of character but occasional deviations from the score

Musicians: Dudok Quartet Amsterdam

Works: Tchaikovsky: String Quartets vol.1: no.1 in D major op.11, no.2 in F major op.22; Eugene Onegin: Lensky’s Aria (arr.David Faber)

Catalogue number: RUBICON CLASSICS RCD1103

The opening movement of Tchaikovsky’s First String Quartet flows along nicely, but a persistent feature of the recording soon appears: when cellist David Faber takes the melody in the exposition, the semiquavers of first violinist Judith van Driel all but disappear. Still, Driel makes up for it with her neatly executed semiquavers in the development. The famous Andante cantabile is simply and effectively played, with some judicious portamento in the central section. The Scherzo is sturdy, rustic stuff, with biting accents and crisp staccatos, but the Dudok dynamics are not the same as Tchaikovsky’s, and his diminuendo sin al fine just doesn’t happen. In the finale, the solos in the viola and cello again come firmly to the fore as their colleagues recede.

The Dudok players make the most of the chromatic dissonances at the opening of the Second Quartet, and Driel plays her recitative with passion and flair, and there is tender playing to come after the energetic scrubbing, and a heroic, muscular climax. They are delicate in the quixotic scherzo, with its quirky time signature, and there is gentle good humour in the central L’istesso tempo. The Andante has an easy grace until Tchaikovsky ratchets up the power, and the finale is equally genial, with clear textures in the fugue. The recording is close and warm.