review

Bernhard Crusell: Three quartets for clarinet and strings: CD

This review was published on: September 16th 2017
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Erich Hoeprich and members of the London Haydn Quartet Glossa

Crusell’s three quartets for clarinet and strings were written over a period of 11 years. All three are presented here in reverse order, beginning with the later Op 7 in D. From the very opening, this performance has a fresh quality, a very clear sound and neat ensemble. The three members of the London Haydn Quartet set up a warm texture from which Hoeprich effortlessly emerges. Op 4 in C minor is dramatic but with a beautiful slow movement, while the lighter Op 2 in E flat ends the recording brilliantly with its youthful vitality.

Much of the clarity comes from the period instruments that Hoeprich and members of the London Haydn Quartet use. Hoeprich’s instruments are copies of Crusell’s ten-key instrument by Grenser. Fast passagework is executed neatly, but the ear picks up on the cross fingerings on some changes and the subtle tone colours between notes. High notes have their own character, cutting through the texture but far from shrill, while the vocal characteristics come across well in the well-balanced ensemble. The string trio uses gut strings, and the overall effect is light and lucid. The range of colours is impressive, and the contrast in character between the three quartets is enough to justify the three works being together on one disc, as has been shown many times before.

Informative programme notes on Crusell’s life and work, and on the development of the instruments, are written by Hoeprich. A fine recording; recommended.

Stephanie Reeve

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The Clarinet and Saxophone Society of Great Britain is a company limited by guarantee registered in England No. 3010228, whose registered office is at 48 Henniker Point, Leytonstone Road, London, E15 1LQ. Email: finance (@) cassgb.org. Tel: 0845 644 0187

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