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Three from Bridge - Haydn, Piazzolla and Beethoven

Every month we have to make invidious choices considering what to review from long lists. Here are three that might well have been passed by. But some record companies and distributors send recordings unsolicited and, because they have an idea of our tastes, their offerings are generally welcomed; at the least, are sampled upon arrival or very soon afterwards.

These three, yesterday, are salutary.

Our readers really don't need more Haydn quartets; they've surely got enough, and likely more than one set of the Sun Quartets? But here they are again, from an American string quartet which seems to not have stopped off at UK's Wigmore Hall en route to the Concertegebouw, the Musikverein etc...

Definitely our loss - these are fresh and polished accounts of the six that are a joy to hear, and they are superbly recorded, leaving me keen to hear the Daedalus live.

Pending that,

Daedalus Quartet's début disc of Ravel, Sibelius & Stravinsky:

Sibelius String Quartet in D minor, Op. 56, ‘Voces intimae' (a)
Stravinsky Three Pieces (a)
Ravel String Quartet in F (b)

Daedalus Quartet (violins Min-Young Kim (a), Kyu-Young Kim (b); viola Jessica Thompson; cello Raman Ramakrishnan)

Bridge BRIDGE0202 (66 mins, 2006)

Received in August 2010, this did not disappoint. Well recorded, as expected from Bridge, the interpretations are newly thought out. The Daedelus Quartet's violinist siblings swap desks democratically. The foursome is always alert and responsive to the music and to each other.

They are less acerbic in Stravinsky than some others and the Sibelius is not quite so intensely earnest as some play it; studio recordings, perfected through the editing of numerous 'takes', can be hard put to match the excitement generated by the best live performances, such as one the young Finns of Meta4 gave of Voces Intimae at the City of London Festival 2009, recorded by the BBC (they chose Haydn for their début disc on the basis that "if you can play Haydn, you can play anything...").

I approached the Daedalus Ravel (- - that one yet again!) less than eagerly, but its refinement captivated once more, as it usually does, and reinforced our hope to hear the Daedalus Four live in London.

Piazzolla is good for light entertainment, but deeply associated with his quintet including bandeonen. Am I really interested in his pieces reduced for flute and guitar? Micaela Petri (recorders with guitar) wasn't very convincing in them...

But Denis Azabagic and his wife Eugenia Moliner are musicianly and passionate to their finger-tips, with rapport that every couple hopes to preserve... never a dead note or dull bar in these miscellaneous arrangements. I loved it; see them present Piazolla's Spring.

And the third offering was yet another collected Beethoven on cello; every cellist does those, and the JSBach Suites...

Who is Laurence Lesser? Not a habitué on the London circuit, where these are to be heard several times each year. Well, he is a very, very distinguished American cellist of the older generation, famous as recitalist, chamber music player, teacher and college administrator, with this project as "a 70 yr old birthday present to myself".

Besides the usual double-disc there is a tempting third one, a 50 mins DVD of talks, discussions and live performances.

Sampling this first, it hooked us completely from beginning to end, for the humanity of the man, his special insghts into Beethoven's thinking and working in some of the sonata movements, discussion of his beloved 1622 Amati cello, and the mutual respect and affection within his "musical marriage" to partner Haesun Paik "who plays many more notes than I do".

The performances (both live in concert and studio recordings) preserve accounts by these artists as good as you'll be able to find amongst all Lesser's more famous predecessors and competitors who have recorded the Beethoven oeuvre.

Enjoy their conversations, and an extensive on-line interview, and do not hesitate to add this set to your collection; my first choice of the three from Bridge today; always a stimulating record company.

Peter Grahame Woolf























Daedalus Quartet's debut CD (BRIDGE 9202), performing Ravel, Sibelius & Stravinsky