Pietro Nardini: Complete String Quartets / Quarteto Eleusi

This Brilliant Classics CD contains the complete string quartets of Italian composer and violinist Pietro Nardini (1722-1793) performed by Quartetto Eleusi. Coming as they do from the time – from the decade actually – that the classical string quartet form as we know it emerged, these quartets are an exciting sample of music in the genre from a contemporary of Haydn and Mozart.

Nardini became involved in the string quartet genre, both as performer and composer, just as the form as we know it was developing. He performed in a quartet with colleagues Filippo Manfredi, Giuseppe Cambini, and Luigi Boccherini beginning in 1765. During this same decade, his quartets and other pieces started to be published across Europe, and his name became well known in musical circles. The fact that the String Quartets of Op. 1 by Haydn was released only a few years before, between 1762 and 1764, illustrates how quickly Nardini was in the game.

The works were written early enough in the development of the quartet that they are not constructed in the familiar four-movement form that was established and accepted later with Haydn’s Op. 9 sets. Haydn’s earliest quartets of Opp. 1 & 2 all consist of five movements. In the case of each of the six quartets recorded here, Nardini gets the job done in only two or three movements!

So what do they sound like? They certainly sound like string quartets from the early classical period with intimations of Boccherini, Haydn, and Mozart. I’ve included a brief and enjoyable Allegro from the String Quartet No. 5 as my sample for this recommendation. Brilliant Classic makes this available to us at a very attractive price.

Album Overview

Pietro Nardini was a highly respected violinist and composer in 18th century Italy. His quartets are melodious, charming works written in well-crafted classical style, with a predominance of the first violin, and conspicuous for the absence of Basso Continuo.

Born into a humble family in 18th-century Italy, Pietro Nardini’s talent for violin playing led him to Livorno to study with the celebrated Giuseppe Tartini, where he reportedly became as good a violinist as his teacher. He traveled throughout Europe and was a resident musician at several of its significant courts — notably Tuscany, where he was Director of Music. Such was his reputation as an extraordinarily expressive technician that he was asked to play in the presence of King Ferdinand and Queen Carolina in Naples as well as Wolfgang and Leopold Mozart, not to mention other celebrities of the age.

His string quartets, initially written for the amateurs of the Florentine public, were widely commercial and published all over Europe, and this is reflected in their simplistic nature. The first three, in which the violin is the prevalent instrument, seem to follow the European traditions of the era, while the final three give equal prominence to the viola and cello. The pieces show absolute modernity when compared to his other chamber works in the lack of basso continuo and use of simple sonata form, as well as a possible German influence in the imitative parts. Performing the works is the acclaimed Quartetto Eleusi, one of Europe’s leading ensembles in the field of historically informed performance.

Other information:
– Recorded in January 2012, for the first time on CD: the 6 String Quartets of Nardini!
– Played on authentic instruments in the historically informed performance practice by the Italian Quartetto Eleusi.
– It contains extensive notes on the composer.


Composer: Pietro Nardini

Pietro Nardini (April 12, 1722 – May 7, 1793) was an Italian composer and violinist. He was born in Fabiana and studied music at Livorno, later becoming a pupil of Giuseppe Tartini. As a violinist, he earned the admiration of Leopold Mozart.


Ensemble: Quarteto Eleusi

Quartetto Eleusi was born out of the meeting of four friends and colleagues united by the passion for historically informed music. They usually work with ensembles like Accademia Bizantina, Academia Montis Regalis, Modo Antiquo, L’Arte dell’Arco, I Barocchisti. The ensemble’s repertoire is placed in the years between the birth of the quartet and Romanticism, with a particular interest in the Italian repertoire, represented by authors such as Nardini, Boccherini, Viotti, Cherubini.


Pietro Nardini – Complete String Quartets Brilliant Classics CD 94438


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