String Quartet No. 0 in E minor, Op. 83 (1908)
01. Allegro moderato ed espressivo
02. Molto lento
03. Berceuse: Andante molto tranquillo
04. Final: Un poco andante – Allegro
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor, Op. 27 (1920)
(World premiere recording)
05. Allegro agitato
07. Intermezzo: Allegretto giocoso – Fuga: Allegreto serioso
08. Final: Allegro – Allegro moderato
All world première recordings
String Quartet No. 4 in D major, Op. 31 (1921)
01. Allegro grazioso
String Quartet No. 3 in E minor, Op. 30 (1921) –unfinished–
06. II. Scherzo
07. III. Adagio molto espressivo
08. Aria in D major: Andante
09. Scherzetto in F minor
10. Preludio in A major “Jinete de Abril”, Op. 51, No. 1 (1934)
All world première recordings
String Quartet No. 1 in G major, Op.11 (1911)
01. Allegro moderatissimo
02. Andante e romántico
03. Intermezzo. Allegretto e mosso
04. Final. Allegro
String Quartet No. 5 in C minor, Op.32 (1921)
05. Allegro non troppo
07. Allegretto Vivace
08. Final. Allegro.
Sonata for Violin and Piano in F minor, Op.25 (1917)
09. Allegro. Un poco recitativo
10. Romance. Adagio
11. Allegro molto
Founded in 2009, the Isasi Quartet blends the complexity and depth of German musical culture with the lyricism and sensuality of Southern Europe, a pairing also found in the string quartets of Andrés Isasi.
The four musicians seek to imbue their interpretations with an intensely emotional, spiritual quality, in music ranging from German and Austrian composers of the Romantic and Post-Romantic eras, to French and Russian composers of the 19th century and contemporary music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
The Isasi Quartet makes regular appearances in festivals and recital series in Germany, Austria, France and Spain, and they work closely together with living composers. The ensemble has already made several recordings for broadcast in Germany (BR), Austria (ORF) and Spain (RNE, Solidaria TV, CRTVG, Localia).
The 3rd volume of their recordings of Andrés Isasi’s complete string quartets will be released by NAXOS in April 2015.
Isasi Quartet are:
Anna Bohigas – violin
Chikako Hosoda – violin
Karsten Dobers – viola
Guy Danel – violoncello
The formation’s performance of Quartet No. 2 in A Minor Op. 27 (1920) cannot be bettered: it reveals their excellent blend and richness of harmonics, engaging them at the same time in a work that possesses greater sonic significance. [...] They particularly shine in the first two movements, on which Isasi seems to have concentrated his energies. This is an excellent début for an innovative, promising set of complete works.
Gonzalo Pérez Chamorro
Ritmo, March 2013 (Spain)
The ‘Isasi Quartet’ […] performs Isasi’s quartets and shorter movements with total mastery. Obviously possessing a great deal of experience, these musicians master the notes to a degree that permits them to concentrate on expression. Although not attempting to deprive this music of its German Romantic character, they make a point of not overemphasizing it either, choosing the most fitting hues and performing with utter commitment throughout. Only eloquent, lively interpretations such as these are capable of rendering Isasi’s music to convincing effect.
Pizzicato, March 2014 (Luxembourg)
American Record Guide, May 2014 (United States)
The listener soon becomes aware of Isasi’s profound, quasi-psychoanalytic type of expression. The composer seems to have invested quite a bit of his above-mentioned restraint in these quartets as well, a characteristic that requires a great degree of concentration and technical mastery from the performers.
But that is no problem for Anna Bohigas and Sidonie Bougamont (violins), Karsten Dobers (viola) and Matthias Weinmann (cello). This quartet has managed to provide its namesake with a laudable platform – indeed, a truly thought-provoking appearance within the current historical ‘digging site’ that encompasses all centuries and musical periods. […] These four musicians display vigorous élan combined with alert emotional sensitivity.
Das Orchester, May 2013 (Germany)
I have much fallen in love with the unpretentious beauty of both works and I commend them to you. The performances from the German-based quartet obviously share my affection, their tonal quality rounded and warm, while the recorded sound carries the same hallmarks.
David's Review Corner, July 2012 (Great Britain)
Four stars for sound, interpretation
and repertoire value
[…] the sonata-allegro exposition is structured in a unique way, more like a capriccio – and the Isasi Quartet does justice to this unique trait by not oversweetening the beautiful, songlike melody. Instead, the ensemble carries these precarious emotions subtly over into the introspective Amoroso in the next movement, which correspondingly leads into a seductive Berceuse and then a series of variations on the initial theme, marked Appassionnata. More mature than this first attempt – strikingly in contrast with it, in fact – Isasi wrote String Quartet No. 2 in 1920. Here he distances himself from the former work’s carefree mood, seeking a new perspective by striking an ambivalent balance between the assertive, masculine Agitato gestures in the first movement and the resigned Adagio atmosphere in the second. The Isasi Quartet brings out these contrasts by interpreting the third movement, Intermezzo, as a sarcastic humoresque, and by rendering the finale as a full-blown fiesta, albeit within the confines of a moderate Modernist approach. This chamber music from the Basque country is certainly worth discovering.
Ensemble-Magazin für Kammermusik, September 2012 (Germany)
Pizzicato, March 2014 (Luxembourg)
“A delicious soirée”
(A review of the recital given by the Isasi Quartet on 22 August 2012 in Hondarribia for the annual San Sebastián Music Festival “Quincena Musical”)
…Attractively chosen repertoire, magnificently performed by the Isasi Quartet…
The Isasi Quartet performed Aurelio Edler-Copes’s String Quartet No. 2 with more than mere conviction, offering their audience a truly fascinating reading. Their shared understanding of music results in a special complicity and mutual rapport that was constantly palpable in their versions of the Debussy and Ravel string quartets. Their mutual attentiveness, combined with a true grasp of the music’s style, ensured that the spell cast by all great chamber music worked its magic here, as well, to create a beautiful blend between the shared and individual aspects of art.
María José Cano
Diario Vasco (San Sebastián daily) August 2012 (Spain)
Andrés Isasi, a Basque composer with a pronounced European tendency who studied under Karl Kämpf and Engelbert Humperdinck in Berlin, wrote no less than four string quartets between 1920 and 1921. His presence within the Bilbao musical scene was already waning: in those times, music of a nationalist bent was more appreciated (1920, for instance, was the year when Guridi’s great Basque opera Amaya was premiered). […]
When I reviewed the first volume of this Naxos series featuring the complete string quartets performed by the Isasi Quartet, I mentioned that Isasi’s Quartet No. 2 is “a work of vast symphonic breadth featuring rich counterpoint and a marked Post-Romantic character”. The two quartets in this second release follow the same tendency. The Isasi Quartet recently performed the world premiere of these two quartets, and now brings them out on the recording market in excellent fashion. These are works written with breadth and density, with elaborate compositional technique and finely articulated polyphonies […] A significant release – a new landmark we owe to the Isasi Quartet – in an emotionally intense, melancholy mood.
Asier Vallejo Ugarte
Scherzo, February 2013 (Spain)
This is an impressive debut for Naxos by the [Isasi] Quartet: sympathetic and thoughtful, technically adept and cogent. Sound quality is pretty good, clean and spacious […] Roll on, volume two.
MusicWeb International, February 2013 (Great Britain)
The members of the Isasi Quartet play the 3rd and 4th String Quartets with great passion coupled with emotionally powerful expression: the Romanza in the 4th Quartet is given a truly moving rendition in the typically sensual style of Late Romanticism. And the dissonances are brought out with jagged clarity. Both the Third and Fourth Quartets – along with the single movement entitled Preludio – are fascinating compositions in their own right. Isasi chose to follow his own individual path within the vast landscape of Late Romantic music, while also allowing himself occasional deliberate incursions into Modernism.
Die Nordwestschweiz, November 2013 (Switzerland)
The Isasi Quartet makes a strong case for their namesake’s music, giving us technically polished, moving accounts of these scores. They leave you waiting expectantly for Naxos’ final installment devoted to this rewarding niche of late romantic chamber music.
Classical Lost and Found, January 2014 (Great Britain)
MusicWeb International, December 2013 (Great Britain)
The string quartets of Andrés Isasi (1890–1940) are notable for their typically German structural solidity blended with a melodic and expressive warmth reminiscent of Dvorak or Grieg […] Both works reveal a Post-Romantic attitude, deliberately circumventing all the changes and revolutions that were occurring in the musical world at the time when they were written, in the early 1920’s. In spite of this, Isasi’s String Quartet No. 4 in D Major was not premiered until 2010, and No. 3 in E Minor not until 2011 […] The Isasi Quartet (whose name already indicates its members’ strong interest in the composer) has rescued this repertoire from oblivion with all the conviction one could wish for.
Juan Carlos Moreno
Ritmo, March 2014 (Spain)
Although Basque composer Andrés Isasi wrote the two String Quartets Nos. 3 and 4 in the same year 1921, they are quite different in nature. No. 3 remained a fragment: with its elegiac moments ‘redeemed’ by intermittent chorale episodes, it is performed in a discrete, almost aloof style by the Isasi Quartet. Quartet No. 4, however, joyfully combines a series of interlocked motifs and striking, overlapping rhythms in its final Rondo. These worthwhile world premieres on CD are supplemented with three minor works featuring melodic string belcanto: an Aria, a Scherzetto and a Prelude in A Major.
Ensemble-Magazin für Kammermusik, April 2014 (Germany)
David's Review Corner, November 2013 (Great Britain)
Thus it is by no means surprising – albeit somewhat embarrassing to us Spaniards – that a German quartet by the name of “Isasi” has assumed the task of ensuring the premiere performance and world premiere recording of the composer’s String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor Op. 27 (1920). This work of vast symphonic breadth featuring rich counterpoint and a marked Post-Romantic character makes a more mature musical statement than the lighter, more juvenile String Quartet No. 0 in E Minor, Op. 83 (1908) whose melodies are more softly lyrical – a work originally premiered at the Bilbao Philharmonic Society shortly before the composer left for Berlin. With these two quartets we are thus in quite distinct worlds, and the Isasi Quartet underscores that difference with passionate intensity, clear voice-leading, stylistic coherence and a great talent for chiaroscuro. This is thus the splendid launch of what will become the first complete recording of the string quartets of the greatest Basque symphonist of his day.
Asier Vallejo Ugarte
Scherzo, February 2014 (Spain)
The Isasi Quartet is a strong proponent of their namesake’s music, giving us technically polished, moving accounts of these scores. They leave you anxiously anticipating their next installment for Naxos exploring this neglected corner of late romantic chamber music.
Classical Lost and Found, September 2012 (Great Britain)
Música y Educación, December 2013 (Spain)
The four-movement second [quartet] begins with more forthright harmonic clashes — attacked with relish by this excellent ensemble […] The group named after the composer play his music with appropriate textural richness [...] They are cleanly and warmly recorded.
Fanfare, January 2013 (United States)
8 ouf ot 10 points for sound and interpretation
This just comes to prove once more that excellent composers never cease to emerge from the depths of oblivion, and time and time again we ask ourselves what precise reason, good or bad, could have been the cause for such neglect.
Crescendo, March 2014 (Belgium)
In terms of scope and quality, Andrés Isasi's quartet cycle holds an exceptional position in the Spanish musical panorama of its day. We can enthusiastically celebrate these works' rescue from oblivion.
Fernando Delgado García
Revista de Musicología XXXVII, No. 1 (2014) (Spain)
Translations: Stanley Hanks
© Isasi Quartet, 2015 — Design by: La Gràfica 210