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RECORDINGS: ALLA BREVE

January 19, 1986|ALLAN ULRICH

KRENEK: STRING QUARTET NO. 5. Thouvenel String Quartet. CRI SD-522. Although the 85-year-old composer has vigorously espoused serialism in recent decades, this wholly appealing 40-minute work dates from 1930, an era when a genuine and unambiguous romanticism infused his sensibility. Krenek fleshes out a relatively traditional structure with a distinctive melodic scheme, determinedly tonal, inherently dramatic and remarkably dexterous in the clarity of the writing. The final Phantasie suffers from an occasional contrapuntal thickness, yet the fragile lyricism of the central Theme and Variations should convert any doubting parties. The Thouvenels first achieved their reputation with this quartet. They render it here with an extraordinary blend of sheen and sinew.

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