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CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Lawrence DILLON (b.1959)
Insects and Paper Airplanes
String Quartet No.4 The Infinite Sphere (2009) [22:59]
String Quartet No.3: Air (2005) [11:00]
String Quartet No.2: Flight (2002) [23:59]
What Happened (2005) [14:08] ¹
Daedalus Quartet with Benjamin Hochman (piano) ¹
rec. June 2009 - March 2010, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NYC
BRIDGE 9332 [72:35]

Experience Classicsonline

Lawrence Dillon was the youngest composer to earn a doctorate at Juilliard, and is now composer-in-residence at the University of Carolina School of the Arts. This disc is devoted to his chamber music.

The quartets are programmed in reverse order, beginning with the most recent, the Fourth. This is subtitled ‘The Infinite Sphere’, a reference to Blaise Pascal, and is cast in two movements or ‘Rounds’, with each Round subdivided. It opens ebulliently, though there are some folklorically inflected passages, an ingenious double canon, and hints of a hoe-down, before the ushering in of a three-voiced Round, and after that a fast-moving and amusing fugue. The second movement is a touch more concise, a tremolando Round followed by a so-called (in the notes) ‘rock bacchanal’ (well, ok...), which generates plenty of excitement.

The Third Quartet (‘Air’) was written in 2005, and lasts eleven minutes. After a cool opening an aria emerges over cello pizzicato. There are plenty of contrasts and an appropriately ‘airy’ freedom to the writing and textures. The mimicking of the human breath that follows is an interesting idea, though not wholly successful; it is however the sonorities and sounds evoked that are the most catchy thing about this work. The Second Quartet is subtitled ‘Flight’ – clearly he is interested in the elements, and in motion, and each of the six movements has fugal elements. It’s a big work, as big as the Fourth, but less immediately appealing possibly because, for all the quick, concentrated scherzo-like movements, the writing is not as memorable as it was later to become, and inclined to be a touch gestural. That said, the fifth fugal movement, Swings, is a total charmer.

What Happened (2005) sees the addition of pianist Benjamin Hochman in a work long on a terse sense of incipient excitement. It’s in sonata form, in three named movements, the central one of which sports some fine hymnal warmth.

The Fourth Quartet was commissioned and premiered by the Daedalus, and they are clearly wholly attuned to Dillon’s idiom. Good recording quality.

Jonathan Woolf






















































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