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The Isasi Quartet Records Volume 3 of Andrés Isasi’s String Quartets

March 8, 2012

The Isasi Quartet completed their third world première recording of the string quartets by the Spanish composer Andrés Isasi (1890–1940) on 3 December 2011 in the magnificent Salon des Gobelins of Arcangues Castle in the French Basque Country.

L’Aria-Andante in D major is probably the original slow movement of a lost quartet. Isasi was fascinated and inspired by the ocean, and towards the end of this piece one can almost hear the sound of the waves.

Although the composer was not a staunch defender of “nationalist” music, the theme he used in the Scherzo of Quartet No 4, op 31 recalls a popular Basque melody, and the first movement sets in with a pastoral scene.

Jinete de abril (“The April Horseman”) is a short story Isasi wrote in 1934 for a marionette play. He had also begun composing the incidental music: the prelude Jinete de Abril op 51, No 1 was to serve as an overture to introduce this “miniature drama for a cardboard theatre”, as he called it. The influence of Impressionism is evident here.

The Scherzetto op posthume is a brief, jazz-inspired character piece, carefree and full of life.

Karsten Dobers commented: “We admittedly had difficulty in finding the right sound for the Scherzo in Quartet No 3, op 30 until we realized we had to “forget” our musical education, our inbred constant search of beautiful timbre. Here, as far as sonority was concerned, we needed to start afresh with a blank slate—imagining, instead, furtive chimeras appearing out of nowhere and vanishing unexpectedly. Once we started applying this new vision, we were relieved to note that the Scherzo started to sound the way it should!”

He added: “In spite of the evident mark of German post-Romanticism and other eclectic influences on his style, Andrés Isasi’s output for string quartet remains impressive and unique.”

This recording—to be released on Naxos Spanish Classics 8.572464—features Annick Roussin (first violin), Anna Bohigas (second violin), Karsten Dobers (viola), and Yvan Chiffoleau (cello). The producer was Johannes Müller, assisted by Michel d’Arcangues.

The first volume of this series of Isasi String Quartets will be released worldwide on Naxos in July 2012.

Photos from the recording session

Isasi Quartet recording volume 3 of Andrés Isasi’s String Quartets

Isasi Quartet with producer Johannes Müller and co-producer Michel d’Arcangues in Arcangues Castle Isasi Quartet and producer Johannes Müller in the kitchen of Arcangues Castle in the French Basque Country

Related articles:

The Isasi Quartet Records Volume 1 of Andrés Isasi’s String Quartets
Isasi Quartet Records Volume 2 of Andrés Isasi’s String Quartets for Naxos


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