Jean Sibelius: String Quartets 1885-1889

Jean Sibelius: String Quartets 1885-1889

by Tempera Quartet
     
 

In his youth, Jean Sibelius pursued a seemingly insatiable course in practicing and refining scoring techniques in chamber settings. This resulted in an output so heavy with miniscule pieces for chamber groups that they belong to a part of Sibelius' output that to date has remained incompletely documented, and therefore inaccessible. As important as Sibelius is, these… See more details below

Overview

In his youth, Jean Sibelius pursued a seemingly insatiable course in practicing and refining scoring techniques in chamber settings. This resulted in an output so heavy with miniscule pieces for chamber groups that they belong to a part of Sibelius' output that to date has remained incompletely documented, and therefore inaccessible. As important as Sibelius is, these pieces are so tiny and numerous that it would hardly justify the cost of the printer's ink used to publish it. The Swedish label BIS has found a solution; to record all the pieces with an expert group, thus making the music available to the public and alleviating the immediate need for a pricey volume that will mainly sit on the shelf and gather dust in university libraries. Sibelius: String Quartets 1885-1889 contains no less than 52 string quartet movements Sibelius created in these years. The most substantive of all is the full-length "String Quartet in E flat major" of 1885, the only piece on the disc previously published and recorded, and lasting nearly 18 minutes. Some of the others are as brief as an eye blink, lasting only 13 seconds, though in most cases the movements generally average between 30 and 45 seconds. Sibelius did not design these works for publication or for performance, but they give us a wealth of information about his quest for perfection in a medium that George Antheil once said renders a composer most "naked." It is not terribly surprising that the spell of Franz Josef Haydn hangs over much of this music, reflecting both Sibelius' interest in working from a solid compositional model and the strong resistance against Romanticism common in the Nordic lands throughout the eighteenth century. Many pieces also evoke folk melodies and ideas drawn from dances. Sibelius' mature voice often peeks through at various points in this music -- when one hears the lovely, haunting strain of his "Theme in A minor" and after its mere 29 seconds have concluded, thinks "couldn't he have kept that one going longer?" The "String Quartet in E flat major" itself is nearly a masterpiece, though one obvious and minor feature of the music mitigates against such a lofty designation; a little bit of padding, an element altogether lacking in his mature music. The Tempera Quartet is a group of Finnish twenty-somethings who have been around since 1997, and they are splendid in this music. This appears to be the Tempera's first recording and will not be the last if there is any justice in this world. BIS' recording is loud, clear, and thankfully retains an intimate perspective on both the music and this extraordinary group.

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Product Details

Release Date:
06/28/2005
Label:
Bis
UPC:
7318590013762
catalogNumber:
1376
Rank:
366606

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Molto Moderato - Scherzo, for string quartet, JS 134  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  2. Scherzo, for string quartet in B minor  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  3. String Quartet in E flat major, JS 184  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  4. Themes (4), for string quartet  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  5. Alla marcia, for string quartet, JS 16  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  6. Presto, for string quartet in F major, JS 154  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  7. Theme and Variations, for string quartet in G minor, JS 197  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  8. Allegretto, for string quartet in D major, JS 20  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  9. Andantino, for string quartet in C major, JS 39  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  10. Theme and Variations, for string quartet in C sharp minor, JS 195  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  11. Small Pieces (33), for string quartet  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  12. Allegro, for string quartet in G minor  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  13. Andante & Allegro molto, for string quartet in D major, JS 32  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet
  14. Andante molto sostenuto, for string quartet in B minor, JS 37  - Jean Sibelius  - Andrew Barnett  - Robert Suff  -  Tempera Quartet

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