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CD Review

Anton Rubinstein

String Quartets Op. 17

  • String Quartet in G minor, Op. 17 #1
  • String Quartet in C minor, Op. 17 #2
The Royal String Quartet Copenhagen
Etcetera KTC1131 DDD 57:23
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Without delving into the quartets movement by movement, I can say that I agree with annotator Mogens Andreasen's assessment that Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) owes a lot to Mendelssohn. In fact, the featured melody in the Molto lento section of the second quartet is practically lifted from the Mendelssohn violin concerto. Aside from that coincidental "derivation," Rubinstein has a tolerable melodic gift, and the ability to develop those themes to the utmost with consistently interesting part writing. He's a talent away from being a master composer, which is a polite way of saying that he's second-rate.

I enjoyed this disc though. The Copenhagen group is captured close-up and with extra resonance, a perspective that becomes a bit uncomfortable when their intonation is anything but perfect (not often). For post-romantic junkies, quartet enthusiasts, and piano historians.

Copyright © 1998, Robert J. Sullivan