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Quartet Wihan The Beatles (Nimbus Alliance)

ABOUT six years ago, the Quartet Wihan shot to attention after having given the first-ever cycle of Beethoven Quartets in Prague, followed by a recording of that cycle, then quartets by Dvorak and Schubert.

Long before that breakthrough, in 2000, the Czech string quartet commissioned and recorded this set of Beatles arrangements from their countryman and composer, Lubos Krticka. There are 13 tracks on this reissue. Obviously, those songs conceived with strings or string quartet accompaniment - specifically Yesterday and Eleanor Rigby - work most idiomatically on string quartet format. Others which work well enough on the medium are those with a lighter or a ballad cast, including Blackbird, Julia, Fool On The Hill and George Harrison's great Here Comes The Sun. Rockier numbers, such as I Want You, don't work, and neither does the simulation of John Lennon's Come Together. I'll now hand this disc over to my young twin boys, authorities on all Beatles' matters, for some serious criticism.

Michael Tumelty

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