The String Quartet in G minor of Claude Debussy and the String Quartet in F major of Maurice Ravel are frequently paired because of their formal similarities, their shared fin de siècle melancholy, and comparable technical demands, and they have been treated as companion pieces on numerous albums. Debussy composed his string quartet in 1893, and Ravel structured his work along similar lines, finishing it in 1903, so in spite of the decade that passed between the works, there was a conscious connection that was reinforced by the composers' mutual admiration.
By juxtaposing Leonid Desyatnikov’s contemporary song settings of Yiddish texts (offering a glimpse into Jewish life in Warsaw during the Weimar Republic) with a pair of chamber works by Schulhoff and Korngold, which also date from this troubled period between the wars, the present recording highlights the fascinating crosspollination then taking place in the music of Eastern and Western Europe. With soprano Hila Baggio as their featured soloist, members of the Jerusalem Quartet bid us “come to the cabaret” to savour a whole range of stylistic approaches and emotional experiences of the rarest kind.
A judicious coupling of Shostakovich recordings by the Jerusalem Quartet who have won BBC Music Magazine Awards no less than three times. “Vivid, profoundly intelligent accounts of six of Shostakovich's Quartets. The Jerusalems prove eloquent exponents of these works' tragic intensity and bittersweet lyricism.” - BBC Music Magazine, February 2013.
Although the initial Harmonia Mundi release of the Jerusalem Quartet's performances of Haydn's string quartets was not described as the first volume of a series, the second volume is prominently labeled as such, suggesting that the first disc was so successful that label decided to release a follow-up to beef-up its Haydn catalog for the 200th anniversary of the composer's death in 2009.
From the opening funeral dirge of the Quartet No.1 to the incandescent frenzy that concludes the fifth, this disc offers a genuine panorama of the Bartókian universe. It's a world unto itself, constantly stamped with the heritage of Hungarian folklore so dear to the composer. Two years after a first volume devoted to the even-numbered works (Nos. 2, 4 and 6), the musicians of the Jerusalem Quartet expertly complete their recording of a key cycle of modern chamber music, a musical saga drawn on the scale of a lifetime.
A century after his death on 25 March 1918, many harmonia mundi artists are eager to pay tribute to Claude Debussy, the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music. The musicians of the Jerusalem Quartet offer a new reading of his only String Quartet, in the logical coupling with its Ravelian counterpart: in some respects, the two works might seem like twins – and yet what differences there are between them!