Saturday, April 22, 2017

Stenhammar, Wilhelm (1871-1927) String Quartets No. 3-6. Top recommendation.

From my collection.
Bought in 2013.
First listen: 13-12-2013,
Second listen: 22-4-2017.
Label: CPO. 2 discs.
Recording dates:  2006-2007.
Recording venue: Jar Kirke, Oslo, Norway.
Recording engineer: Geoff Miles.
Running time: 113:57.
Classical relevance to me: Essential.
State of the Art recording.
Top recommendation performance.

Works performed:
String Quartets 3-6.

Works performed by:
Oslo String Quartet.



I never knew Stenhammar's SQ before I bought this set. And after hearing them, I should be heartily ashamed of myself. Ignoring top notch SQ is not my style, and no style at all. They are romantic in mood, and as deep in spiritual content. Every note is naturally polished to a shine that it easily outruns your expectations. For they are far better as you might imagine. Such are the ways of the world, that these works never rose out of their obscurity, until BIS and CPO started to record them, and even that is no guarantee that they will eventually rise to the status they should have. Well...they did it for me in these wonderful renditions by the Oslo SQ . They seem to have a natural feel for this music, and they emulate to the highest degree the genius Stenhammar was. 

Despite that Stenhammar is recorded in reasonable quantities and qualities, he is compared to say Sibelius or Nielsen a great unknown. Stenhammar is a perfectionist, and in this case it makes him as good a composer as Sibelius is. The SQ are unusual in their structure and modern without being out of focus with the past.  I am amazed how much power Stenhammar conjures out of every movement, and the rhythmic propulsion that he engenders. But all said and done, I am almost put out of breath by the SQ, so good they actually are. Nothing is as it was done before or after, he is truly an unique voice in the big Scandinavian landscape. These works are a highlight in the genre, and belong to the best that was ever composed.
Strongly recommended.



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