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James A. Altena
Fanfare, March 2011

Joseph Thuille (1861–1907) was a pupil of Rheinberger and a longtime friend of Richard Strauss, who gained his primary fame as a pedagogue (with Rheinberger at the Königliche Hochschule für Musik in Munich) rather than as a composer; his own pupils included Hermann Abendroth, Ernest Bloch, and Walter Braunfels. Recent years have seen a number of recordings appear of his chamber music—a cello sonata, a piano trio, a wind sextet, and the piano quintets—though not his symphonic works or operas. Previous reviews in Fanfare have split over Thuille’s merits; Martin Anderson, Jerry Dubins, and Scott Noriega have all been generally (though not unreservedly) positive, while Bart Verhaeghe has registered a strongly negative dissent.

The present CD is not about to change anyone’s mind, though for a somewhat different reason. Unlike the previously mentioned works, the two string quartets that are here receiving their premiere recordings are both pieces of juvenilia, dating respectively from 1878 and 1880–81 during Thuille’s studies with Rheinberger; the first was never completed and lacks its finale. Given his teacher, one would expect Thuille’s works to be cast in a decidedly conservative, pre-Wagnerian vein; however, they in fact go back even further, being along lines of what Haydn might have written if he had lived another 15 or so years and developed his art accordingly. Even early Beethoven seems avant-garde by comparison. While quite ingratiating and making for pleasant background listening, these apprentice compositions present nothing memorable. The Signum Quartet plays with spirit and dedication, but I would have preferred more sweetness of tone. The recorded sound has warmth and a touch of resonance. The extremely short disc timing makes one wonder if another Thuille chamber work was not available for inclusion. Collectors of late-Classical and early-Romantic chamber music by lesser figures will want this disc, but there is no urgency for anyone else to acquire it.

Don O’Connor
American Record Guide, January 2011

The playing and interpretations are spirited, supported by clear sound.

To read the complete review, please visit American Record Guide online.

James Manheim, October 2010

Ludwig Thuille was an associate and friend of Richard Strauss and a student of and successor to Joseph Rheinberger as a counterpoint teacher. He didn’t just come in on the conservative side of Viennese music around 1880 but, on the evidence of the one complete and one incomplete string quartets recorded here, might be classed as a wholesale reactionary. Annotator Susanne Ziese (her notes are in German, English, and French) tries to align him with the Brahms faction, but the music sounds like Brahms only in spots, and even Rheinberger’s dense chamber style is little in evidence. The basic models are Schubert, especially evident in the lengthy lyrical turns toward the submediant and mediant, and even Haydn (sample the Quasi presto finale of the String Quartet No. 1 in A major). As played by Germany’s Signum Quartet the music is certainly pleasant...nicely played and recorded...

WRUV Reviews, September 2010

Two string quartets by the forgotten and overlooked Thuille (1861–1907). Lush, lyrical, with elements of Handel. Play all!

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