, May 2012
On this happy disc, they [Quartetto Italiano] appear at the Royal Festival Hall, London (22 February 1965) in total command of their powers and of the music at hand, which includes a late Beethoven string quartet, their perennial trump card.
The program opens with Boccherini’s two-movement work…a gregarious Presto and inventive Tempo di minuetto. The first movement…moves in cantering pulsations that display the unanimity of tone of the Quartetto Italiano, while the variations allow first violin Paolo Borciani his moments of concertante splendor. The dancing figures in the course of the variants will likely recall Boccherini’s eternal fandango quintet to connoisseurs.
The clean articulate liens of the Allegro vivace assai allow Borciani and violist Piero Farulli to converse elastically and with nuanced expression. The happy scamper of the movement proceeds with warm exaltation, especially fertile in harmony with Borciani’s extended trills or running passages. Even the traditional coda becomes enriched and develops along lines Brahms would find to his creative taste.
A dignified Menuetto and Trio ensues, a loftily expressive conception rife with courtly grace. The Trio dances on tiptoes, Borciani a step away from a miniature concerto or concertino. Borciani’s first violin dominates the long, melancholy line of the Adagio, the other voices shading its grief with hints from Gluck’s Orfeo. Franco Rossi’s deep-chested cello adds to the emotional alchemy an aura of primal loss mollified by spiritual serenity. The finale, Allegro assai, combines three themes in bravura fashion, the interweaving voices passing through each other in unbroken, supple counterpoints. The seamless ensemble moves so effortlessly, we quite jump in surprise as the London audience erupts in delight.
Quartetto Italiano added Beethoven’s 1825 Op. 132 to their repertory late in their career, c. 1962. Plastic and intensely molded, the lines of the opening Assai sostenuto capture the often groping melancholy and sudden rushes of improvised, exploratory lyricism that erupt from the composer’s pen…The abrupt moodiness of the piece, its fierce compression and harmonic audacities…
The “Holy Song of Thanks” receives a truly spacious, nervously taut reading, a clear precedent of anything like the yearning for spirituality in Mahler.
A Best of the Year candidate, certainly, as the British audience could perceive from the concert’s outset. © 2012 Audiophile Audition Read complete review