Arnold ROSNER (1945-)
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
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
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.
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.
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