Friday, January 8, 2010

Bloch : String Quartet No 5 - Fine Arts Quartet

Bloch wrote all but the first of his string quartets in the last years of his life, inspired to tackle the medium by hearing a performance of his first quartet by the Griller Quartet. The Grillers recorded all but the final quartet in wonderful idiomatic readings.My introduction to the last quartet came from the Fine Arts Quartet, an ensemble which even now is under-rated.  Their reading captures the idiom perfectly.
The quartet, written when Bloch was terminally ill, has a language that is gentle and searching at once. The composer's daughter, Suzanne, tells of how he wrestled with the end, writing four or five versions, each perfectly good, before he arrived at the one that made sense to him. It is a magical moment as the music loses pace, the instruments begin to separate into distinct voices, the cello hovers on D flat - the last note before the open C string, and then the chord simply opens into C major, calm, firm and final.

This is a 160 kbs needledrop, but from a decent copy of the LP, and the performance is utterly special. If you like this, head over to Music & Arts and get hold of their wonderful Bartók quartets.


  1. RonanM:

    It's funny how this sychronicity thing goes --- here's some Fine Arts Quartet at your place just as I'm about to post some at my own! Hopefully this will draw some attention to this somewhat-undervalued ensemble. (Also, I will be posting some of the Ciccolini Beethoven I had mentioned --- )

    I am familiar with the Griller's wonderful recordings of Bloch's 1-4, but I must admit my ignorance --- not only did I not realize he had written a 5th quartet, I did not know the FAQ had recorded it.

    Thanks for another in a an uninterrupted line of winners!

  2. The fifth is the culmination of all the things that seemed to obsess Bloch, and their resolution, I think. If the Grillers didn't record it, I think that the FAQ more than make good the loss. I have never heard any other outfit with such a perfect conception of the final five minutes.

    Keen to see what you have!

  3. Salut, Voisin,
    J'aimerais bien écouter ces quatuors... mais rapidshare ne veut pas.... tant que je ne le paye pas.
    La plupart d'entre nous (les partageurs de musiques perdues) utilisons mediafire, qui est aimable et efficace!

  4. Vous avez raison, cher voisin.

    Si j'ai un moment je fais une version Mediafire, sinon, Lundi.

  5. Et voila, c'est fait:

  6. merci, c'est intéressant. je ne connaissais que Schelomo. Il a écouté Bartok, il y avait de pires influences...