Quatuor Turner plays
Beethoven String Quartets -
considered by PETER DALE
'... more immediate, more compelling, sometimes more alienating, always more convincing.'
The Turner Quartet's special claim upon our attention is that they
set about to recover, where possible, as much of the original character
of the music they play as can be gleaned from the earliest sources: manuscripts,
of course, but also early performing copies, the impressions of the first
audiences, the reactions of the first critics, and so on. Sometimes this
results in unusually fast or unusually slow tempi (that thorny old problem
of Beethoven's metronome again!), sometimes in revised details of bowing,
often in dynamics being played at slightly greater extremes of emphasis,
but most tellingly of all in the fresh impressions they convey of the music
as a whole: Schumann without the accretions of a (false) Viennese background;
Schubert no less melodically fertile than usual but sometimes with a rare
elegance too; and so on.
In the case of this disc, they seem to have pondered long and hard on
what it was about Beethoven's music that prompted sensible, sober contemporaries
to make (apparently considered) remarks about it such as: 'This is
a bad joke from a lunatic'.
We can reproduce original instruments, authentic period acoustics, idiomatic
playing styles, etc, but the rock on which the musical purists must all
eventually founder is that it is impossible to reproduce original listeners.
How the first audiences responded is a singularly important tell-tale of
the composer's original intentions, even in the case of someone like
Beethoven who was so (superficially?) indifferent to what his contemporaries
Copyright © 9 January 2002
Peter Dale, Danbury, Essex, UK
CD INFORMATION - HARMONIA MUNDI HMC 905252
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