The Lebrecht Weekly: Resch/Beethoven: String quartets (Genuin)


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The trouble with most music by unfamiliar contemporary composers is that the listener has no idea where it’s coming from. The Austrian Gerald Resch gets over this hurdle by rooting his third string quartet, ‘attaca’, in Beethoven’s first Razumovsky quartet, opus 59/1. The context works remarkably well.

Resch, 46, is a former music journalist embedded in Viennese music, both historic and  modern. He works with ensembles as different as the period-instrument Concentus Musicus and the Aureum saxophone quartet. In creating ‘attaca’ he had a period of immersion with the trendy, Frankfurt-based Aris Quartet, among the most accomplished on the circuit.

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Resch’ss citations of Beethoven are subliminal more than literal, but the mind absorbs them as a frame of reference on the ‘attaca’ journey, like unlit milestones at night on a country lane. There is more darkness here than in Beethoven but it is unthreatening. The 22-minute span of ‘attaca’ feels exactly right for its materials, just enough to leave you wanting more.

The Aris go on to give a carefree reading of the Razumovsky, worlds apart from the stressed-out, middle-aged, male performers I grew up with. Has string quartet playing got easier, or have the players just got more relaxed? Has a better gender balance helped? Whatever the cause, the Aris play Beethoven with sweeping flair and something close to insouciance. When Covid is over, I shall hear them live. Meantime, their Beethoven adagio sings like a Pentecostal nightingale.


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About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

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