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Witold LUTOSLAWSKI (b.1913-1994) String Quartet (1964) [24:38]
Krzysztof PENDERECKI (b.1933) Quartetto per Archi (1960) [6:56]
Toshiro MAYUZUMI (b. 1929) Prelude for String Quartet (1961) [11:53]
John CAGE (1912-1992) String Quartet in Four Parts (1950) [21:20]
Lasalle Quartet (Walter Levin (violin I); Henry W Meyer (violin II); Peter Hamnitzer (viola); Jack Kirstein (cello))
rec. 22-23 December 1967, Ufo-Studio, Hamburg; 20-21 December 1972, Beethovensaal, Hannover. ADD
First issued on LP as DGG 104 988/93 then reissued on CD in 1988 as DG 423 245-2GC (20th Century Classics series)

Experience Classicsonline
Here are three quartets from the radical early 1960s and one from a decade earlier by a revolutionary. Two are by composers who lead the Polish avant-garde. The other two are a leading Japanese composer and a wild and woolly frontier experimenter. The music-making here is from the early days of the Lasalle. It embodies finesse, elite craft, purity of expression and dedication. Virtuoso attainment is demanded by these scores and the demands are fully met by the Lasalle. The two movement Lutoslawski is an exercise in mercurial fantasy, a slippery kaleidoscope of episodes in motion, sinister, exciting, buzzing, creaking, shambling, sprinting and suddenly caught up in mediation or in furious motion. The Penderecki opens in salvoes of col legno clicking and clattering, spattering and ricocheting across the spectrum. It’s a compact essay in shock staccato which finds a meditative yet equivocal peace at the close. By contrast the Mayuzumi Prelude while certainly written by a disciple of dissonance also incorporates the sounds of Japanese traditional instruments and manners. Its mood is meditative yet anxious. In addition to the liquid swerving pizzicato there are cleanly spun and long held high notes from the violin. The four movement Cage also has a faintly oriental tang mixed with the characteristic ‘fall’ of Dowland’s instrumental lyrics. Indeed much of this work has a faintly antiquarian grace and spirit which when the music becomes animated can suggest a sympathy with Copland. The sound is stunningly close yet not claustrophobic. The collection’s analogue provenance is belied by the virtual silence from and against which this music emerges. You still need a hardy pair of ears and a resiliently receptive mind. There is much here to stimulate if you persist. The Lasalle were after all the de luxe ensemble for such music well into the 1970s. This issue is graced with a new and typically informative and thoughtful note by Malcolm Macdonald.

Rob Barnett














































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