Carl VINE (b. 1954)
String Quartet No. 3 (1994) [15:37]
String Quartet No. 2 (1984) [14:41]
String Quartet No. 4 (2004) [16:44]
Knips Suite (1979) - selections (IV. Deco Knips (a tango) [4:06]; VI. Knips del Fuego (a finale) [4:15])
String Quartet No. 5 (2007) [22:00]
Goldner String Quartet (Dene Olding (violin); Dimity Hall (violin); Irina Morozova (viola); Julian Smiles (cello))
rec. 30 November and 2-4 December 2009, Eugene Goossens Hall of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Ultimo Centre, Sydney.
ABC CLASSICS 476 5168 [78:11]
Carl Vine’s output is substantial and the media he has chosen also imply substance and greatness of vision. There are seven symphonies and nine concertos. We can contrast with this his engagement with dance which also permeates his string quartet production. He has 25 dance scores to his name and wrote the music for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
The Third Quartet - of the four showcased here - has its tender moments interspersed among the Bartókian chitter and buzz. One such is at 7:46 and particularly poignant it is too. There’s also a shade or two of Tippett in that composer’s last lyrical phase. The Second is in a single compact movement, as are the other three. It is more anxiety-ridden, reflective of the rush and discontents of metropolitan life although at 3:18 a pattering confiding pizzicato magically and dancingly blunts the fears. The Fourth, with wail-sliding writing and more of the insectiform wing-flutter of its two predecessors, again seems to reference the ‘madding crowd’ before ending in hushed and elegiac tones. The Knips Suite (aka String Quartet No. 1), of which we hear two episodes, was written for choreographer Ian Spink and the Basic Space company in Edinburgh where it was first heard at the Festival in 1979. There are six movements of which we get a salty and eye-smarting tango and a grainy and sometimes abrasive ‘del Fuego’. The Fifth Quartet was commissioned by the Goldner. The music moves between confiding Olympian thoughts and the sort of harmonic invention encountered in Beethoven’s late quartets. The CD is packed close to the limits. The playing throughout is concentrated and emotionally telling. Anxieties, sorrows and consolations are alive in this music.

The notes are by Gordon Kerry and they tackle both factual-biographical context as well as description of the music. By the way, the stunning booklet cover is from a canvas by Joel Rea.
Rob Barnett 

Modern anxieties, sorrows and consolations are alive in this music. 
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