Friday, April 28, 2017

Klenau, von Paul. (1883-1946) String Quartets No. 1,2 & 3.

From my collection.
Bought in 2011.
First listen: 4-2-2011.
Second listen: 28-4-2017.
Label: Dacapo.
Recording dates: February-March 2008.
Recording venue: Mariendalskirken, Frederiksberg, Danmark.
Recording engineer: Preben Iwan.
Running time: 70:11.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
Reference performance.
State of the Art recording.
Top recommendation for the first SQ.

Works performed:
SQ No. 1 in E minor. 1911.
SQ No. 2, 1942.
SQ No. 3. 1943.

Works performed by:
Sjælland String Quartet.

The first SQ is a work that is almost out of this world. A deeply emotional work, but without the dynamic passion, but rather of a ethereal nature. This is an extremely well composed SQ, just listen to the second movement, Adagio, (mit tiefer ruhiger Empfindung). It is quite hard to write such an empfindlichkeit into the music, but Kenau succeeded in that, almost 10 minutes long. Everyone of those four movements are gems of the purest nature, all of them have an inevitable shine and intrinsic harmony that captures your imagination in a jiffy. One of the best SQ I have heard from that time. It is clearly rooted in the Classical Romantic tradition. And thus it's hard to come down in reality again! I only wished he wrote more of them in that tradition.
SQ 2 & 3 are twelve tone works, which is quite a different way of composing music.  Mind you it's Klenau's own distinctive technique, which he developed at the beginning of the 1930's. There is of course a technical story behind it, but it is not my place to elucidate on this, others might do better.
And although I admire the technical construction of the music, as music as such it holds no interest to me. I rather hear it as from afar, no emotional bonding, neither connection through reason. I simply acknowledge it but do not really register. There are some moments of great beauty as in the second movement of No. 2, but as quickly it dissolves. Several of those episodes in both works, but it's when the unsettling dissonances appear that I get upset.
It is perfectly performed and recorded, and very much recommended for the first Quartet. The other two are to remote for me to have an opinion about that cuts any wood.




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