One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor in Chief: Rob Barnett

CD REVIEW



Some items
to consider

 


Gloria Dei Cantores
All Night Vigil


Whispering Mozart


absolutely essential release


The best recording I will hear all year


Long awaited recordings


Absolutely enthralling


Left me longing for more


A superb 90th birthday recording


A top recommendation.


Superb advocacy


Tchaikovsky Sibelius

 


Complete ballet

alternatively AmazonUK

 

 

Alfred HILL (1869-1960)
String Quartets - Volume 1
String Quartet No.1 in B flat major Maori (c.1889-1897) [22:34]
String Quartet No.2 in G minor A Maori legend in Four Scenes (1907-11) [22:14]
String Quartet No.3 in A minor The Carnival (1913) [20:34]
Dominion Quartet
rec. Expressions Theatre, Upper Hutt, New Zealand, May and October 2006
NAXOS 8.570491 [65:41]

 


Australian-born and New Zealand-raised Alfred Hill has long held an important place in Antipodean musical life. A substantial biography by John Mansfield Thomson exists and recordings have attested to his pioneering place in the culture of his native land(s). With the release of this budget label disc devoted to the first three quartets the entire corpus of Hills quartets is to be released in due course by Naxos the wider public can get to know him more as a composer and less as a footnote.

The First Quartet is a student work and my date of 1889-1897 in the head note is very loose; this relates to the commencement of the work during his Leipzig days and the subsequent post-1896 replacement of the two inner movements to incorporate some Maori ideas. Hed certainly immersed himself in the quartet repertoire when in Germany and was seemingly intent on cribbing from Dvořk and adding some Borodin and fusing it with mid-century, maybe Mendelssohnian warmth. The second movement has a nice trio and a rather cocky profile though it still cleaves to Bohemian models with plenty of folkloric drive (hard to define as at all Maori) and the finale has a coquettish turn of phrase that amuses. Its rather winsome dance opens out into a broad folkloric panel. The playing is committed but uneven. Intonation wanders and ensemble is not always watertight.

The Second Quartet dates from 1907-11. Once again the influence is Dvořk, not the perhaps expected heavy-duty Brahms. The narrative sense of the work is more convincing than the earlier works barely assimilated models. The pizzicato woodpecker for instance is appealing, a little nave maybe, but still full of felicitous colour. The second movement however has a sparse, reflective, rather dreamlike intimacy of expression and manages to embrace atmospheric expression in to the bargain. The finale is vibrant, exciting and much more clearly and analytically thought through than the finale of the student quartet.

A couple of years after having finished the G minor he finished the Third Quartet subtitled The Carnival. It was expanded many years later in the 1955 Carnival Symphony [No.5] Hill is probably still best known for his symphonic and operatic writing. It has some very beautiful moments, lyric and intense, but also the expected rusticities of Dvořk note the way the cello pizzicati underpins so much of the verdency of this kind of writing; and the wheezy articulation that generates the folk hues. The finale sails close to Bohemian and Russian music, songful, eventful and with Hill whipping up a fine dance to end the quartet with real fire.

The recorded sound is generally good and the performances, as noted, occasionally wayward though thats mainly confined to the First Quartet. Ive not heard any rival recordings of these three quartets but it will be interesting to see how the Dominion shapes up against the Australian Quartet [Marco Polo 8.223746] in the Fifth, Sixth and Eleventh. 

Jonathan Woolf

 

 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

These prices cannot last!
Compare Toccata discs
Presto £13.50 +£2 pp
Amazon £15.53 post free
MusicWeb £10.50 post free

New Releases

Naxos Classical

 

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Arcodiva
Atoll 10% off
CDAccord
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Hortus
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sheva £2 off
Sheva Contemporary
Sterling 10% off
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger
 

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.