- String quartet in D major, B. 337
- String quartet in F major, B. 338
- String quartet in G minor, B. 339
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Composing string quartets in the shadow of Haydn -- who is often regarded as the father of the modern string quartet -- could not have been an entirely easy task. But many composers, including Ignaz Pleyel, actually enjoyed great success as quartet composers during their lifetimes and have only been forgotten by history in its near-idolization of Haydn. In fact, Pleyel was a student of Haydn, but recognizing that he couldn't "compete" with Haydn on his own turf, did not attempt to emulate him but rather to tread his own path. This CPO album features three of Pleyel's so-called "Prussian" quartets, which constitute the height of his output in this form. The appropriately named Pleyel Quartet Köln has gone so far as to examine and compare several early editions of these quartets in an effort to produce the most historically accurate performance possible. Combined with the period instruments, obvious academic talents, and passion for neglected works, the quartet also brings refined technical skills and a deep musical understanding of compositions of this time period. Intonation is clean and precise throughout, and the ensemble's sound quality is warm but transparent. Although much of the writing heavily favors the first violin, Pleyel gives the other quartet members ample opportunities to demonstrate their own skills, and the members of Pleyel Quartet Köln rise to the occasion.