Schubert
String Quartet “in mixed keys” [G-minor & B-flat, Deutsch catalogue], D18
Sirmen
String Quartet in F-minor
Haydn
String Quartet in B-flat, Op.76/4 (Sunrise)

Aris Quartett [Anna Katharina Wildermuth & Noëmi Zipperling (violins), Caspar Vinzens (viola) & Lukas Sieber (cello)]
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Aris Quartett
Photograph: © Simona Bednarek Three works composed between the mid-eighteenth-century to the early years of the following one.

It was curious to start with the piece written last. Here we had Schubert, in his early teens, who would contribute greatly to the String Quartet genre, feeling his way if with infectious spirit and also some experimental forays into tonality and texture. The Aris Quartett revelled in these aspects.

The F-minor Quartet of Maddalena Laura Sirmen, the earliest piece here, is striking in its individuality. A violinist and singer, her understanding of the instruments’ capabilities is abundantly clear. The unexpectedly short Largo opening bore tantalising promise of being developed without this being realised, only to reappear as the third movement, and the deployment of repeated, exchanged and occasionally unified upward and downward five-note scales provides an ongoing anchor, here illuminated by the players.

Then we had Haydn ticking all the boxes for originality and vitality, notably in the lyricism of the opening movement that gives the work its ‘Sunrise’ nickname – hallmarked by some haunting playing from Anna Katharina Wildermuth. The musicians were adept at judging rubato and syncopation. The encore was a rhythmically dazzling account of the Finale of Dvořák’s ‘American’ Quartet.

 

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