EMANUEL ALOYS FÖRSTER: Three String Quartets, Op. 21 – Authentic Quartet – Hungaroton Classic HCD 32705, 73:14 (Distr. by Qualiton) ****:
Not to be confused with the late romantic Czech composer Josef Bohuslav Förster (1859-1951), Emanuel Aloys Förster (1748-1823) knew Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. Förster was born in Silesia, taught himself music as a child, and then received a thorough musical education at a Benedictine secondary school.
He studied music in Prague and later moved to Vienna where he received notoriety as a teacher and composer. In Vienna, with string quartets all the rage, he was able to keep in contact with various chamber music ensembles and produce compositions for them to play.
His Op. 21 quartets are simple in some ways in that they easy to understand. At the same time they are entertaining with sudden effects and unanticipated change of direction. In these quartets graceful dance melodies are common, as Förster employed 6/8, 9/8, and 3/8 time.
Are they great finds? Yes and no. They are much more entertaining and less tiresome than some of the music being composed at the time and now long forgotten. Are they profound works? No.
Founded in 2002, the Authentic Quartet plays on period or modern copies of instruments with A=430Hz. They all received degrees from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest. They play with various orchestras, chamber orchestras and at various festivals such as the Haydn-Eszterháza Festival. They play the Förster quartets like they consider these works worthy of being disinterred and performed for today’s musical audiences. I think they are right.
As with all current Hungaroton recordings, this one is sonically beyond criticism. For chamber music lovers, this is excellent entertainment.
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