Book of Quartets now contains over two thousand pieces.
Given that none in this disc lasts beyond 1.33 they are all
likely to be compact to a remarkable degree. They are all
numbered though I’ve dispensed with numberings in the headnote
not least because the composer expressly sanctions that they
be heard in whichever order and number one chooses and because
numbering them will be meaningless to readers. Most on this
disc are numbered above 2200; 2349 is heard, twice, and there’s
a Widmung, without number. Which is how we get to 32
Poems and 34 tracks.
The notes aren’t
especially helpful about Yoffe who was born in St Petersburg
in 1968. He emigrated to Israel in 1990 and then to Germany
seven years later. He apparently sees himself as “a Jewish
composer influenced in his work by Russian literature, German
music and Far Eastern philosophy.” The evidence of the music
is of slow moving, essentially introspective, and indeed mournful
reflection. It has elements of compression reminiscent of
the more melancholy fringes of minimalism, maybe also of Taverner
in keening mode. Tracked individually though they are the
music seems to move seamlessly from one Poem to the next.
Tonal and concise they offer some moments to the first violin
but are in the main painted in auburn colours for all four
Along the way
one notices slight changes of effect. No.2348 [track 17] seems
fractionally lighter in tone than the generally rather melancholy
Poems. Elsewhere ascending and descending lines develop a
degree of hypnotic repetition; scored unison in the main with
occasional solo lines; grave and contemplative as befits “Eastern
Philosophy” where nothing much seems to happen and where the
tempo is the same, throughout.
promotion of these poetic slivers one should accept them,
I suppose, on their own terms, one of Eastern reflectiveness
and minutest incremental intensities of lightening having
powerful weight in the context of so much quartet stasis.
I’m sure that to some this will be attractive – non-cerebral
but “feeling-philosophical.” One could barely fault the performers
and the recording soundscape is attractive.