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ClassicsOnline Home » KLENAU, P. von: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 (Sjaelland String Quartet)
By Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics
I'd never heard this Danish composer's name, that even escaped the omnivorous Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians' attention. Von Klenau was the founder of the Danish Philharmonic Society and had a successful career as a conductor in Germany and his native Denmark. In his works, he appears to have experimented with various styles without settling on any one in particular. The performers make a valiant effort to elevate this music to an enjoyable level, but it fails to transform it to anything accessible. In my experience with similar works, they make more sense when followed with a score.
By David Denton
Though born in Copenhagen in 1883 to a long established Danish family, Paul von Klenau spent most of his life in Germany and Austria where he studied composition with Max Bruch and Max von Shillings. At first directing his career towards the violin, he later moved to a joint life as conductor and composer. His output was in most genres - including five string quartets - and passed through may changes of style, while considered a major activist in modernity as a member of Alban Berg’s circle of friends. After the first quartet, completed in 1911, there is a long gap to the second and third coming from 1942 and 1943, those being the last few years of his life when he returned to Copenhagen. Though at the time they might have been stylistically challenging, they belong to that school of composers who now sound part of musical tradition. Indeed I found all three works immediately capturing my attention. Just beam into track 6 - the Andante of the Second - and though it is not in the full sense tonal music, it has so much beauty in its feel for times past. Certainly Klenau knew how to write for strings, and how to construct coherent string quartets. Fortunately they receive highly persuasive performances from the recently formed Sjaelland String Quartet. At a time when we seem so frequently to be hailing newcomers to the chamber music scene, this new Danish team are special in the quality of tone they create. At the two extremes - leader and cello - it is outstanding, with intonation high on the fingerboard always perfectly centered. I look with great expectation to their future releases. Sound quality absolutely ideal. Fervently commended to you.
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KLENAU, P. von: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 (Sjaellan...