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Friday, May 26, 2017

Caetani, The Two String Quartets, Alauda Quartet

Roffredo Caetani (1871-1961) ? Another 20th century Italian instrumental composer most of us do not know.  Like some others covered lately on these pages, he is not exactly a full-blown modernist. Far from it. But there is some very good music to be heard on the recent release The Two String Quartets (Brilliant Classics 95198). The youthful but considerable Alauda Quartet tackle Caetani's "Quartetto Op. 12 in F minor" and the "Quartetto Op.1 No. 1 in D."

The minor mode of the Op.12 brings out a gentle impressionist-romantic melancholy that the Alauda Quartet handles without sentimentality, with the matter-of-fact presence that we in our contemporary world need to hear in this music--as closer to our time than the 19th century. This is a work I would not like to hear the Budapest Quartet play, because they might give it a heart-on-sleeve nerve-driven reading that would miss the subtlety and transcendence that the Alauda give to the work.

The early Op. 1 No. 1 in a single movement has a somewhat similar hushed expectancy, and a moodiness that like the Op. 12 speaks with a kind of intimacy that is not unwelcome. It has moments that are perhaps a little less transparent and more romantic than not, but there is nothing perfunctory about it, either. Caetani speaks with his own sincerity, lives and expresses convincingly within the style sets he inhabits.

If you have some time to devote to unfamiliar music and feel a little moody yourself this is attractive music. Recommended for you who feel the lack or recall a life abundance now dissipated! Or for that matter it  is for you who just like the idea of a kind of mysteriously gentle impressionist-late romanticism.

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