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Beautifully Subtle

Cuarteto Casals plays Ravel, Turina and Toldrá,
reviewed by

harmonia mundi    HMI 987072

Cuarteto Casals - Influencias - Ravel, Turina, Toldrá. © 2007 harmonia mundi ibèrica

The reputation of the Cuarteto Casals has grown well over the ten years since its inception and it is at present enjoying a residency at the Sala de Cámera of L'Auditori in Barcelona. Highlights of past recordings have been their CD devoted to the quartets of Arriaga, and a fine performance of Zemlinsky's 2nd Quartet coupled with Debussy.

In this, their most recent CD, they take on Ravel, with impressive enthusiasm [listen -- track 2, 0:00-1:05] as well as the delicacy, sensitivity and demanding sense of balance required, and this time they add Joaquín Turina's atmospheric Oración del torero, not only the prayer of a matador at the little chapel altar before the bullfight, but a gentle reflection on the more sedate musical times of the composer's youthful education. Written originally for a lute quartet in 1925, Turina made arrangements for chamber orchestra and, earlier, for string quartet, in which form it is given a beautifully subtle performance here, with closing pages capturing the music's ethereal magic [listen -- track 11, 7:09-8:26].

Less familiar, and a welcome addition, is the quartet Vistes al mar by the Catalan composer Eduardo Toldrá who died in 1962 with a notable reputation also as a conductor, violinist and Catalan folk song and dance collector. The three movements of this quartet are inspired by poems related to the sea by Joan Maragall, the Catalan writer who died in 1911 and did huge additional service to his language by translating the great Greek, French and German books -- not least all Wagner's writings! The three poems that inspired the quartet movements precede each in readings by Iván Sinyol, the first illustrating 'The weaver's broom ... so heavily scented ... which arrives when the weather grows warm' [listen -- track 6, 0:00-1:22].

Excellent performances and good warm recording.

Copyright © 13 September 2007 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Cuarteto Casals - Influencias - Ravel, Turina, Toldrà

HMI 987072 DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE 55'02" 2007 harmonia mundi ibèrica

Cuarteto Casals: Abel Tomàs Realp and Vera Martínez Mehner, violins; Jonathan Brown, viola; Arnau Tomàs Realp, cello

Maurice Ravel: String Quartet (completed 1903); Eduard Toldrà: Vistes al mar (1921) (La ginesta (poem by Joan Maragall); Allegro con brio; A les ilunyanies (Joan Maragall); Lento; La mar estava alegre aquest migdia (Joan Maragall); Molto vivace); Joaquin Turina: Oración del torero (1925)


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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews