Monday, 19 January 2009

233. Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga - String Quartets (1824)


Title: Complete String Quartets
Performers: Voces String Quartet
Year: 1985
Length: 1 hour 14 minutes


These three string quartets by the very unknown, at least outside Spain and particularly the Basque country, Juan Arriaga, a Basque composer that died at the age of 19, are actually pretty great pieces.

Unlike most Spanish music that we have had and will have, it's character is not particularly Spanish, being integrated in a internationalist style, even if it does have some Spanish echoes, particularly in the first quartet. However I was looking for them while listening to it, if you weren't it would be hard to find them.

The three quartets are a bit backward looking, sharing more with the classical than with the romantic, but they are very much integrated in the transition, and the slow movements show the young Arriaga had a good sense of the Romantic. All in all they are delightfully light pieces of great beauty by a composer that would have shown great promise, had he not contracted a severe case of the deaths.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

According to Grove, Arriaga's death "before he was 20 was a sad loss to Spanish music." Following his early death, with the only reliable biographical material being some reports by Fétis, Arriaga's life story was fictionalized to play into rising Spanish nationalism. A public theatre in his home city of Bilbao carries his name.

Nothing of the String Quartets so you get the overture to his only opera, Los Esclavos Felices:

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