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Piotr MOSS (b.1949)
String Quartet No.4, Chagall (2007) [41:01] ¹
Le lien entre les jours (2008) [20:32]
Dedication, for string quartet (1994) [3:00]
Opium String Quartet
Jadwiga Rappé (mezzo) ¹
rec. 2012-13, Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio, and Studio S2 of Polish Radio
CD ACCORD ACD 195-2 [64:44]

Piotr Moss, a student of Grażyna Bacewicz and of Nadia Boulanger, has long carved out his own very personal musical direction. In these works for string quartet we are introduced to his mature and distinctive music composed between 2007 and 2008 and one earlier work, Dedication, which was written in 1994.
 
His Fourth String Quartet is subtitled Chagall and there are five movements. The material alternates between terse and fragmentary and more long-breathed, between melancholic and folkloric - evocative folk-band sections that delve into the Chagallian subtext of the quartet. These shtetl evocations seem to vary in function between the emotive and the stylised; between those of the Allegro second movement - that soon dissolve into taut tremolandi - and the following Andantino where melancholy and Bartókian nightmare music alike take deep root. The funereal march section here serves warning of what’s to come. Indeed the Allegro that follows is urgent, even manic in places with strange Dance feints, almost tango-like, and a Dies Irae that explicitly emerges after some Shostakovich-inspired Jewish stylisations. Fearful and non-linear, the finale ends in powerful, overwrought abruptness. This pungent 40-minute work takes concentrated listening and even then its secrets - its inner biography - are not easy to discern but it makes for an intense listening experience.
 
Le lien entre les jours is written for mezzo soprano and string quartet. The texts are by the Dutch writer Miriam Van hee. The stoical vocal line is shadowed by a very much more equivocal, terse commentary from the strings, whether taking solo soliloquies or collectively. The three sung poems are separated by three purely instrumental sections, the first two for quartet and the last, an Epilogue, dominated by solo cello. Jadwiga Rappé is the sonorous mezzo. Finally there is Dedication, for string quartet a tautly elliptical, brief and very colouristic work.
 
The hedonistically-named Opium String Quartet performs these three works with verve, technical polish and real conviction.
 
Jonathan Woolf