might as well get it out of the way and mention that this release got several assloads of acclaim when it dropped back in 86: praise was lavished, rosettes were pinned, prestigious awards were won, etc. so you know — it's kind of a big deal.
but unlike lots of other big deals, this one's a big deal not because the performers give butt-quakingly passionate and technically virtuosic readings of compositions that one might reasonably put forward as references for their genre. it's a big deal because, um...
or... no, i'm sorry — that's precisely why it's a big deal. my mistake.
okay, so, starting over. here we have gabriel faure's two piano quartets. what keeps drawing me into these pieces is their continuity — though you might even say relentlessness — of melodic statement. tight-knit is one way of putting it. unremittingly inventive would be another. like some nut-job called out during a sneak preview performance of brahms's fourth symphony, one might get the feeling during these quartets of being beaten by an incredibly intelligent person. in the case of faure, it's all the more remarkable feeling like you've got to throw up your hands in surrender, since the deluge of sounds teeming down on your head are just inconceivably delicious.
meanwhile, i wouldn't want to give the impression that these quartets can't be listened to without maximal mental exertion. just saying, i once made the mistake of putting this album on when i was already completely exhausted, thinking i was in for a deeply relaxing experience, only to find my feeble intellect in a condition similar to a skater who's broken through the ice on a fast-moving river, swept under and away in the current. i know it seems like cuddly music, but i implore you, take caution!
to say something of domus and susan tomes, they deserve every bit of praise they've gotten for this recording. trying to imagine the concentration it must take to work through these pieces with such loving attention to detail just baffles me. i'd almost feel bad for them if they didn't do it with such an appreciable sense of adventure.