Debussy & Ravel String Quartets: Australian String Quartet ABC 476 6904

This is the debut recording for ABC Classics by this hugely successful quartet. The quartet, comprising Sophie Rowell and Anne Horton (violins), Saly Boud (viola) and Rachel Johnston (cello), bring a sophistication and dazzling virtuosity to this French music that is captivating.

Both quartets, masterpieces in their own right, are the only works in this genre by Debussy and Ravel. The instrumental colouring, exotic harmonies, enchanting melodies and rhythmic energy from the music are given a superb performance on this recording. Interestingly, whilst both composers conformed to a four movement layout, their second movements were fast and rhythmic whilst the third movements were both slow and expressive.

The Australian String Quartet was established in 1985 and is Quartet-in-Residence at the Elder Conservatorium on Music at the University of Adelaide. It tours extensively throughout Australia and internationally. Making a major impact on the musical life of this country, the quartet has participated in prestigious events with, for example, the Alban Berg Quartet in Cologne, and has the distinction of winning more international chamber music competitions than any other Australian ensemble.

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