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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



A SECOND TRIO OF QUARTETS
Arnold ROSNER (b1945) String Quartet No. 4 (1972)
Lester TRIMBLE (1923-86) String Quartet No. 1 (1950)
Irwin SWACK (b1919) String Quartet No. 4 (1986-90)
Alorian (Rosner); Ondine (Trimble); Sierra (Swack).
rec not announced
OPUS ONE 150CD [69.33]





Max Schubel founded Opus One with the objective of issuing recordings of the richly diverse works of living American composers. His own Third Quartet is on Opus One CD151. This present assemblage represents challenging listening.

Rosner is at his most prickly in the Fourth Quartet with his accustomed fastidious expression and tragic inclination here magnified by highly intense drama. This piece ties in with his much later opera Chronicle of Nine. Stylistic alliances flit briefly across the auditory horizon: Shostakovich in his later quartets, Bartók and even RVWís Tallis. The Trimble work has a much higher incidence of dissonance than the Rosner. A pupil of Copland, Honegger and Milhaud he seems to have gone down the road of Coplandís Piano Fantasy. An intriguing piece but decidedly thorny.

Ohio-born Irwin Swack was a name completely unknown to me. A pupil of Vittorio Giannini (always a promising connection) he seems to have been drawn to the music of Shostakovich and Bartók. These voices and the deftly astringent lyricism of the Berg Violin Concerto have each infused the horizontal and vertical grid of this music. He is most assuredly of a romantic inclination and I will continue to look out for his name.. There are three other quartets, Psalm VIII for tenor and string orchestra, two symphonies and a Fantaisie Concertante for string orchestra. While his ideas are not, on this evidence, indelible he promises much.

Each of the three works are performed by a different quartet and, apropos of nothing apart from an additional nugget of background, each of the quartets is all-female.

The curious should note that the first trio of quartets was issued on Opus One CD105 with music by Laurie Macgregor, Richard Samuel and Eliot Sokolov. The Hampshire Quartet recorded all three.

De rigueur listening for twentieth century quartet specialists. Impressive for the gritty Rosner and the promising Swack.


Rob Barnett


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