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MF8004 | BUY
A.E.M. Gretry (1741-1813)
Sei Quartetti, op.3

QUATUOR THAÏS
Caroline Bayet, violin I
Elsa de Lacerda, violin II
Wendy Ruymen, viola
Kathy Adm, violoncello

Grétry’s six youthful string quartets op. 3 occupy a peripheral place in his largely operatic output. Moreover, we have no precise information as to their original function. While some historians maintain that they were originally sinfonias, which were subsequently stripped of their horn and oboe parts, it nevertheless seems that they were performed as quartets during Grétry’s time in Rome. In these pieces, the composer adopts a very classical harmonic and formal scheme. Moreover, he treats the instruments in a vocal manner, revealing an ingenuous grace and a natural, spontaneous emotional expressivity as well as the strength of his writing. These graceful and vivacious pieces were probably well received by the public of the time, which was sensing the beginnings of a stylistic renewal with an emphasis on expressivity and elegance.


22.05.2006
Fanfare (U.S.A.)
Barry Brenesal
André-Ernest-Modeste Grétry (1741–1813) was best known for his numerous operas during his lifetime. He wrote little else after hitting his stride, so presumably this youthful collection of six quartets was intended as a group of musical calling cards; no other reason has been adduced for their existence. They take the form of the Parisian Quatuor concertant, in which all four instruments take an active and frequently equal part in the ensemble. Despite this, the shape of each quartet is unique, following the examples of Cambini and Boccherini: one, for example, is in two movements, its first an allegro sandwiching a minuet, while another quartet starts with a slow movement, moves to an allegro, and concludes with a fugue. The musical content in all cases is primitive for its time, far more so than the sophisticated quartets of Boccherini or Brunetti, with the fugue movements in particular on the level of short, competent, but uninspired student exercises. There’s even the possibility they were created as such, though as a whole these quartets aren’t without moderate charm.

The Quatuor Thaïs members adopt a vibratoless tone for these performances. They may also be using original instruments or modern copies, given the sound in particular of the cello and viola, but no information is provided on this. At times, I found their playing harsh and their phrasing wooden, but the more energetic galant movements (such as the central allegro to the First Quartet, and the final allegro to the Fifth) brought energy and thrust to their music-making. They still sound too impersonal, with little give-and-take among all four musicians, but they’re certainly owed points for investigating unusual repertoire.

Sound quality and balance between the instruments is very good; timings are on the short side. Recommended for those interested in the repertoire.



19.10.2005
La Libre Culture
Nicolas Blanmont
Quatuor Thaïs ***

On connaît André-Modeste Grétry (Liège, 1741 - Montmorency, 1813) comme compositeur d'opéra, mais sa musique instrumentale, peu abondante il est vrai, est bien moins fréquentée. Excellente idée qu'on eut donc les quatre cordes du Quatuor Thaïs que d'exhumer ces quatuors opus 3, oeuvres de jeunesse qui auraient pu être jouées lorsque le jeune musicien de vingt ans était parti étudier à Rome. Pas de la grande musique? Certes, Grétry n'est ni Mozart ni Haydn, mais il y a dans ces 6 quatuors de forme classique ici un sens remarquable de l'équilibre et une façon de faire chanter les diverses voix des instruments qui ne peuvent que séduire, surtout quand la musique est jouée avec une telle élégance et une telle aisance. (N.B.)



 
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