Adalbert Gyrowetz: 3 String Quartets / Pleyel Quartet Köln


February of 2013 marked the 250th anniversary of the birth of Bohemian composer Adalbert Gyrowetz (1763-1850). The string quartet form was central to Gyrowetz' output as over sixty published works in the genre indicates, including sixteen that comprise his Opuses 1-3. This cpo release performed by the Pleyel Quartet Köln offers three of Gyrowetz' quartets which I've listened to and thoroughly enjoyed many times during the past month.

Gyrowetz was an extraordinarily prolific composer having produced over four hundred works. In addition to his sixty-plus quartets, his largest areas of output were in other instrumental forms, including piano trios (30), violin sonatas (40) and symphonies (in excess of 60). These were written during the earlier part of his career. Later, he occupied himself with writing stage works, including over thirty operas.

The three string quartets on this CD come from the last five years of the eighteenth century. This was an exceptional time in the history of the form when Haydn published his magnificent Opp. 74, 76 and 77; and Beethoven wrote his earliest quartets of Op. 18. Gyrowetz' string quartets are elegant, inventive and engaging, possessing a charm and personality all their own. The sample provided of the Allegretto fourth movement of Quartet Op. 29 No. 2 shows that his music clearly echoes the spirit, if not fully the greatness of the supreme quartets of the time from Haydn and Mozart.

Listeners who are hard pressed getting their fill of Viennese Classical quartets should definitely investigate this recording and hope that the next issue from cpo and the excellent Pleyel Quartet Köln of Gyrowetz' quartets bears the designation "Volume Two of the Complete String Quartets."