Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Founder Len Mullenger:

String Quartet No. 2 (1963)
String Quartet No. 3 (1965 rev 1992)
String Quartet No. 5 (1977)
Duet for violas (1991)
Ad Hoc String Quartet
Mark Ottesen (second viola)
rec 28-30 May 1994, Evanston , Illinois
ALBANY TROY 210 [66.32]


Rosner's neo-romantic music should (rather like that of Aaron Jay Kernis whose approach differ but whose end results are equally approachable) easily win new friends. I keep my fingers crossed that Chandos or another of the majors will discover him and present a full orchestral anthology. Until then (and afterwards) here are three of the five string quartets.

The second is the work of a seventeen year old recalling the wilder 'hell-gallops' of Bartók and the wiry succulent lyricism of Rózsa drenched with a draught from Wirén's sturdy Serenade For Strings. The first movement has the feel of a stately passacaglia. It is typical of this and the other works that their singing modal lines are presented in shimmering sound. More often than not these glowing coals recall some Bach transcription in communion with the embers of Hovhaness's Armenian Rhapsodies. This carries over into the third quartet whose core allegretto suggests dances from antiquity and the archaicisms of Peter Warlock in Capriol. Bursting and arching over and through this there is Rosner's totally uncontrived lyrical drive. In the finale a 'hoe-down' rushes upwards in rising ecstasy.

The Fifth Quartet is much coloured by modal writing similar to that in Vaughan Williams' Flos Campi (inspired by The Song of Songs as was Rosner's own song-cycle Nightstone). The music would pair well also with Vaughan Williams' First Quartet, the Ravel and the Hovhaness Quartets. The rhapsodic approach of the writing recalls the Lark Ascending. It avoids meandering reflection by the quality of its themes and its sense of purposeful movement and direction. Often you find, with Rosner, that even during introspective passages one of the parts is pulsing quickly along.

None of the quartets are longer than about 25 minutes and the Fifth is only 15:50.

The Duet was first played by, and written for, for the couple who coached the Alorian in their preparation and recording of Rosner's 4th Quartet in 1990. As is the nature of such works it is somewhat severe. After hearing almost two hours of Rosner for the first time, the Duets is, surprisingly, based on a serial cell.

The Ad Hoc Quartet is, despite the name, a real ensemble. They play with delicious abandon and are recorded in an ideal acoustic. They are based in the Chicago area. None of these quartets were written for them. The Fourth Quartet, not featured here, has been recorded by the Alorian Quartet on Opus One CD150. I hope that there will be a third volume of the Rosner chamber music and that on it the Ad Hoc will be playing the Rosner piano quintet No 2 which they premiered in 1996 with pianist Roderick Teh.

I have known Rosner's name for many years. This is the first time I have encountered the music. I commend it to you with all warmth. Sincerity and an intuitive way with thematic creation propel this music. Given its chance - a chance it deserves this will lodge in your memory. I feel I have joined a select band in getting to hear this music. More please.

Rob Barnett


A collection of Rosner orchestral music is to be found on Laurel 849.

The first violinist in the Ad Hoc 4tet wrote his doctoral dissertation about Rosner and compiled a list of works omitting Clausulae for Trombones, Opus 115. This is at:-

As for current projects, there are two new CDs very far in the pipeline. (edited orchestral masters being reviewed by composer.). They consist of:

Chamber Music Vol 3
String Sextet "Nun Komm der Heiden Heiland", Op. 47
Besos sin Cuento (Six Spanish Songs for contralto, flute, viola, harp), Op. 86
Sonata in Bb for Trombone and Piano, Op. 106

Orchestral Music - Nicholas Palmer, cond. Altoona Symphony Orchestra (first
two), Owensboro Symphony Orchestra (last two)
A Millennium Overture, Op. 112
A Sephardic Rhapsody, Op. 95
Concerto for 2 Trumpets, Strings and Timpani, Op. 107
The Tragedy of Queen Jane, Op. 78

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