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Album review: Ernest Bloch, Landscapes

November 15, 2011 |  9:00 am

Official Photo 2011 - Galatea Quartet
Ernest Bloch: Landscapes
(Sony Classical)

It's about time that someone went to bat for Bloch.

The Swiss-born composer who was born in 1880 and immigrated to the U.S. during World War I, is mainly remembered for his Hebrew rhapsody, “Schlomo.” But there is far more to a composer who straddled the Romantic and the Modern, and who had a big influence on many American composers, teaching in Cleveland, San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

He wrote five really good mature string quartets, all neglected. But it is the idea of the young Galatea Quartet, which champions new Swiss and German music and plays Pink Floyd on the side, instead, to introduce Bloch through small chamber pieces that show the gamut of his styles and flair for evoking nature. The playing is imaginative and the music haunts. Included is also the first recording of a teenage string quartet that gives near Mendelssohnian promise of a major composer to come.


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-- Mark Swed

Photo: the Galatea Quartet. Credit: Raphaël Fleury