JESÚS GURIDI – The First Quartet

Spanish Basque Late Romantic composer Jesús Guridi Bidaola [1886-1961] wrote just two string quartets. The first was written in 1934, and consists of four movements.

The quartet has a beautifully haunting opening –two harmonised violins are at work here. This melody is developed and briefly moves into a high register. A recapitulation of the opening is brief and leads to a pause, followed by a stately mood, filled with feeling. Another pause leads into a strong harmonised chordal section which in turn, gives way to an alluring passage as the violins sketch out a folk-like melody. A solo cello statement introduces another brief chordal section. The music now becomes more expansive, leading into a cello ostinato while the violins continue with their sumptuous melodies. Another pause brings about a sparse violin duet that develops great feeling. The violins dominate this movement as a further restatement of the opening melody is introduced. The ending is very precious.

The second movement, marked vivace, features a singing solo violin introduction. Occasional ensemble sounds are heard as the violin continues with its mood. A strong cello line appears and complements the general character. A period of two violins leads into a slow passage – this is quite wonderful in its sparsity as the violins overlap with a moving, minor melody. A fluttering cello passage completely changes the mood for a time, adding energy, but the violins conclude the movement on a wispy chord.

The third, adagio movement features the two violins in a lament, the cello and viola add support. This is a sombre mood, with a slight pulse. The violins reach out with a sustained period of great emotional depth – the sound is almost orchestral, the cello again being prominent. The feeling is achingly beautiful. A slight change in the mood is positive and the violins drift towards a faded ending, followed by a closing chord. What a wonderful movement.

The final movement sparkles as the violins duet with the cello in a dance-like manner. There are brief episodes of drama as the violins move forward at a bright tempo. A melodic motif is passed between the violins and cello as the viola provides rhythmic pizzicato interjections, leading to an optimistic mood. Some chordal passages are developed and a rhythmic impetus carries the work to a conclusion, which is a violin flourish.

The review CD, Guridi : Complete String Quartets, performed by the Breton Quartet is on the Naxos label and is available on Amazon US and UK.

Samples can be heard on Spotify, YouTube and earsense.

Listenability: Slightly Spanish-sounding, melodic Romantic quartet.


2 thoughts on “JESÚS GURIDI – The First Quartet”

  1. Wonderfully descriptive writing JH particularly with reference to the emotions. A joy to read.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.