- String Quartet in E minor, Op. 83
- Quintet for piano & strings in A minor, Op.84
Elgar: String Quartet, Op. 83; Piano Quartet, Op. 84by Sorrel Quartet
No pomp and circumstance here. Elgar's String Quartet (1918) and Piano Quintet (1919) were written following a dark period in the composer's life brought about by the ravages of the First World War and a long bout of ill health. Both pieces reflect Elgar's mood, expressing feelings of loss and disillusionment while also offering glimmers of hope. The Sorrel Quartet, a young English ensemble, brings out a great deal of the music's interior angst, although occasionally one wishes they would forsake their beautifully refined sound to give us more of the music's grit. Their intensity is not generalized, however, for they are attentive to subtle yet crucial details, like the sudden forced smile at the very end of the quartet's first movement. Pianist Ian Brown joins the Sorrels for the Piano Quintet, a work haunted by images of a group of gnarled, barren trees that stood not far from Elgar's house. Piers Lane and the Vellinger Quartet (on EMI) convey the quintet's spooky atmosphere more effectively, but the rugged energy of the Sorrel's interpretation is quite compelling. They take a daringly slow tempo in the deeply nostalgic Adagio, and the result is hypnotic and heart-rending. Chandos provides a clear, warm recording -- made in the Snape Maltings Concert Hall (one of Britten's preferred venues) -- that shows off the quartet's lustrous string tone to great effect. Recommended, although collectors should also consider a fine budget alternative by the Maggini Quartet on Naxos.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsSorrel Quartet Primary Artist
Ian Brown Piano
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