Sinigaglia Qtsvol2 8574495

Leone Sinigaglia (1868-1944)
Complete Works for String Quartet Volume 2
Wawrzyniec Szymański (horn)
Archos Quartet
rec. 2021, KunstWERK, Germany
Naxos 8.574495 [88]

The first volume in this series focused on Sinigaglia’s half-hour String Quartet in D major, composed in 1902 (review), a charming work somewhat reminiscent of Dvořák and Schumann. This second volume majors on two trios, the Trio in A major and the Trio-Serenata (Serenade), and adds a sequence of very much smaller character pieces for string quartet.

The String Trio dates from 1889, so was written at the same time as those deft little character pieces, whose characteristics it shares. In four movements it’s mellifluous, gentle and attractive, with a second movement Theme and Variations of changeable character. The cello leads in the finale where Sinigaglia kicks up some contrapuntal fun and games: a light-hearted and pleasurable work of few intellectual pretensions. The Trio-Serenata (Serenade) dates from 1906 and shows the composer’s command of salon gesture most prominently in the delightful B section of the Intermezzo. The finale is a Capriccio, a slightly circus-like galop with splendid writing for the violin and zestful pizzicati. Neither work has been recorded before. Maria Odvody plays the violin in the String Trio whilst Filip Jeska takes over for the Trio-Serenata. Violist Radenko Kostadinov and cellist Francesca Fiore are ever-present throughout the disc.

The series of quartet works includes only two pieces that have received previous recordings, one of which is the Romanza for string quartet and horn, played by Wawrzyniec Szymański. The luscious romantic textures, either for the quartet or in the accompanying horn passages, show Sinigaglia at the apex of his burnished charm. The other previously recorded work is the Momento antico, in this version for string quartet, a very brief piece – less than two minutes. Elsewhere, we find Sinigaglia in largely nostalgic, reflective and occasionally loquacious form, packing detail into very small canvasses. He’s extrovert in the Allegro energico with its cellistic March theme and series of episodes. He’s whimsical in the baroquerie of the Gavotta, spins an easy going narrative in the Novelletta and encourages a romantically rich Moderato mosso. ‘Classical’ charm is the core of the Scherzo, perhaps with the deftest of sidelong looks at Respighi, whereas the Adagio is all languorous elegance and sublimated romance.

The Archos Quartet reprises the qualities of its excellent earlier disc and those looking for light-hearted, romantically ripe and conversational generosity will find much to enjoy in this latest, finely recorded volume.

Jonathan Woolf

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Romanza for string quartet and horn, Op.3 (1889)
Ave Maria (1888)
Allegro energico (undated)
Gavotta (1888)
Novelletta (undated)
Moderato mosso (undated)
Scherzo in D major (1888)
Adagio (undated)
Momento antico (1888)
String Trio in A major (1889)
Trio-Serenata, Op.33 (1906)