Ravel – Streichquartett in F-dur, Debussy Streichquartett in g-moll


Two very similar string quartets, composed by composers both known for their impressionist tone. Ravel wrote his string quartet ten years after Debussy, and he took the latter as his example. Debussy was impressed and sent him an encouraging letter. Teacher Gabriel Fauré was less impressed.

There are also differences, mainly in the musical colouring of the two pieces. Where Debussy is looking to Russia, Ravel is looking to Spain. Some people believe they can even hear traces of Javanese gamelan in his quartet.

These are both pieces of superb impressionism (a term both composers didn’t like and ascribe to). I knew the Borodin Quartet already because of the Borodin Trio. The Trio was formed when violinist Dubinsky and his wife fled Russia via the Netherlands to the United States. Back in Moscow, the Borodin Quartet kept playing: they are one of the longest existing quartets in the world, founded in 1945.

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