Pleyel: String Quartets Op 2 No 4-6 / Enso Quartet

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PLEYEL String Quartets: in E?, op. 2/4; in B?, op. 2/5; in D, op. 2/6 ? Ens? Quartet ? NAXOS 8557497 (56:38)


Throughout his long and distinguished career, Ignaz Pleyel (1757?1831) composed a total of 57 string quartets, and by the time he wrote the half-dozen quartets that were engraved in 1784 by Graeffer in Vienna as op. 2, Haydn had already composed his ops. 20 and 33 sets, both of which expanded the scope and breadth of the form. Mozart was familiar with Pleyel?s work and it may have been Pleyel?s op. 2 that prompted Mozart to write his father, ?You will find them [the quartets] worth the trouble. They are very well written and most pleasing to listen to. You will also see at once who [Haydn] was his master. It will be a lucky day for music if later on Pleyel should be able to replace Haydn.?


Indeed, the presence of Haydn is unmistakable in these works, although it is not as if he were guiding Pleyel?s quill, for these quartets are not knock-offs. Rather they are as annotator Allan Badley noted, ?a remarkable achievement for a young composer and it is one of the cruel quirks of fate that works of such vitality and imagination could be forgotten for so long.? I add to Dr. Badley?s remarks that this music impresses immediately by way of its tunefulness, memorability, and tight, but never pedantic structure. It flows beautifully from page to page and movement to movement with the ease of a brook gently making its way down a hillside


The Ens? String Quartet?an American ensemble, by the way?is made up of violinists Maureen Nelson and Tereza Stanislav, violist Robert Brophy, and cellist Richard Belcher. The quartet takes its name from a Japanese zen painting of a circle ?that represents many things, perfection as well as imperfection, the moment of chaos that is creation, the emptiness of the void, the endless circle of life, and the fullness of the spirit.? In 2003, the group won the Concert Artists Guild International Competition and in the same year was awarded top prize at Chamber Music Yellow Springs in Ohio. They have appeared in leading venues across the land including Lincoln Center and the Merkin Concert Hall (New York) and have been the guests of Bill McLaughlin on St. Paul Sunday Morning , heard nationwide on member stations of National Public Radio.


Lacking the first of the two Naxos discs that make up Pleyel?s op. 2, I placed this arrival in my player with no preconceptions as to what I might hear. It didn?t take long for me to determine that I was privy to extraordinary talent. The performances are replete with enthusiasm and momentum and, drawing upon a winning combination of instinct and convention, they evoke not only a distinct personality, but also exhibit poise, coupled with an exceptional sense of vitality and elegance. The energy generated by these young musicians is obvious from the get-go, as is their commitment to the repertoire. Vital and intellectually challenging, these curiosities repay the listener?s interest time after time by way of their memorable and affable nature.


Without doubt, these quartets stand their ground with similar works of Haydn and Mozart, and with advocacy this strong, they will certainly begin to emerge from musical oblivion, taking their long overdue place in the repertoire.


FANFARE: Michael Carter


Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: 8557497


  • UPC: 747313249725


  • Label: Naxos


  • Composer: Ignace Joseph Pleyel


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Enso String Quartet


  • Performer: Maureen Nelson, Richard Belcher, Robert Brophy, Tereza Stanislav