In our ongoing three-disc survey of Sibelius’s music for string quartet, we have reached the years 1888-89, which saw the end of the composer’s studies at the Helsinki Music Institute. In fact, the String Quartet in A minor, which closes the present disc, was composed as a graduation work.
As in the case of the previous disc (BIS-CD-1376), several of these pieces first came to light after the donation of autograph manuscripts to Helsinki University. Many of them have never been recorded before, and this release thus presents a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the unknown facets of a great composer. Guided by the erudite liner notes of Sibelius expert Andrew Barnett, it is also possible to discover the links between these neglected gems and some of the masterpieces.
Indeed, the reviewer in the German magazine Ensemble described the previous volume as ‘a voyage of discovery that could hardly have been any finer’, commending the Tempera Quartet for outstanding performances. The quartet also gets high praise in Classica-Répertoire, for their ‘homogeneous and very sensitive playing’ in a repertoire of ‘great beauty and a surprisingly classical balance’.