Thursday, December 11, 2014

Manfredini String Quartets -- They're OK!

Vincenzo Manfredini: Complete String Quartets
Quartetto Delfico
Brilliant Classics

Manfredini (1737-1799) spent most of his professional life at the Russian Imperial Court, before retiring to Bologna to write and teach. During that time he published his set of six string quartets, which are performed on this album.

The quartets aren't ground-breaking like those of Haydn and Mozart written around the same time. Manfredini's are written an more gallant style, concerned primarily with beauty and clarity.

And he succeeds on both counts. The melodies are nicely phrased, with catchy motifs that practically dare the listener not to hum along. Cadences occur at regular intervals, and all sections repeat to ensure the audience has an other opportunity to enjoy the music.

The Quartetto Delfico have a clean, clear ensemble sound that's well-suited to material. Listening to this recording, it's easy to picture the musicians playing by candlelight to a select audience of minor nobility in a guilded hall.

I wouldn't call Manfredini's string quartets great music, but they're definitely quite good. And quite pleasant to listen to.

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