Related Reviews
The Gramophone
this excellently recorded disc is irresistable...
more >>
Gramophone
Sensitive, beautifully played arrangements of pivotal 20th-century quartets.
more >>
The Observer
Combining a thrilling intensity with flawless technique, this is string-playing as original as it is eloquent.
more >>
McAlister Matheson Music
The Scottish Ensemble has done nothing better on record than this.
more >>
BBC Music Magazine
4 Stars
'...thoroughly committed and convincing throughout...'
more >>
The Scotsman
'This album offers both mystery and electrifying charm in equal measure.'
more >>
Daily Telegraph
...an ear catching canvas of colours.
more >>
The List
5 Stars
The Scottish Ensemble play both works with the polish and expressive power we expect from them.
more >>
The Herald
5 Stars
'...a pungent and powerful performance by Gould's elite brigade.'
more >>
Inverness Courier
played by a vibrant and sensitive young group...
more >>

Ravel & Shostakovich for strings - Scottish Ensemble - The Sunday Herald


01 June 2003
The Sunday Herald
Christopher Lambton
5 Stars

There's no shortage of music for string ensemble, but that doesn't stop inquisitive players seeking odd gaps in the repertoire. One such is offered by Ravel, composer of brilliant chamber music and scintillating orchestral scores, but not much in between. Clio Gould and the Scottish Ensemble have long wanted to play Ravel's atmospheric string quartet but there was no version available for their combination of instruments.

You could argue that a string ensemble is just a quartet 3 times over, and that you could play the music as writ except with more instruments, but the result would lack refinement. So you need an orchestrator to divide up the parts and redistribute them to suit the texture of a larger group of players.

Ravel was one of the best in the business, but he never tackled this piece, perhaps because his rival and friend Debussy pleased "In the name of God, you must not tamper with this quartet". In its original form it is certainly a rare beauty - romantic and delicate yet adventurous in harmony and texture - and you would need to be confident to change it. Who better than Rudolf Barshai, a violinist known for turning Shostakovich's harrowing eighth quartet into an even more powerful and mesmerising Chamber Symphony. The Scottish Ensemble asked him to arrange the Ravel and the result is this disc where it is performed alongside andother Barshai/Shostakovich quartet arrangement, the tenth.

It is an unqualified success. It seems as though nothing is lost, but a whole world of subtle sonorities gained. The Ensemble play as responsively as any quartet and do Barshai proud. Expect to hear this performed everywhere as soon as word gets out.


Bookmark and Share


Related Links

Scottish EnsembleScottish Ensemble
Ravel & Shostakovich for stringsRavel & Shostakovich for strings