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

  2022
 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

William ALWYN (1905-1985)
Early String Quartets
String Quartet No. 6 in E minor (1927) [20:02]
String Quartet No. 7 in A (1929) [20:46]
String Quartet No. 8 in D minor (1931) [12:42]
String Quartet No. 9 in one movement (1931) [13:11]
Seven Irish Tunes for string quartet (1923) [8:56]
Villiers Quartet
rec. 2019, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth
LYRITA SRCD.386 [73:35]

This fine disc was already reviewed by my colleagues Jonathan Woolf and John France. The first gave extensive descriptions of the works, the second an in-depth analysis of their place in William Alwyn’s development. I agree completely with their assessment of this disc, I will only describe my own reactions to this release.

The string quartet form fascinated Alwyn throughout his life. He wrote seventeen between the ages of fifteen and eighty. The last three, the “Alwyn Quartets” recorded before, have been reviewed by John France and Brian Wilson. In 2017 the Tippett Quartet recorded Nos. 10-13 of the early quartets, reviewed by Rob Barnett. Now we have Nos. 6-9. They demonstrate, as did those on the Tippett Quartet disc, that whatever the composer’s negative view of the early quartets, they contain much music of value.

The reader may notice that Quartet No. 7 is first on the disc rather than the earlier No. 6. The reason for this becomes clear when one has listened to both quartets. No. 7 starts out strongly, reminding one more than a little of Shostakovich’s early quartets. The passacaglia second movement is equally impressive, but becomes progressively more austere. The succeeding Rondo features a beautiful cello motif, cleverly developed. The final movement, Retrospect, emphasizes the E-minor home key in an original way; the coda, incorporating material from the preceding movements, shows real depth.

The Quartet No. 6 reminds one of Moeran or perhaps Alwyn’s teacher, Sir John McEwen, to whom No. 7 is dedicated, and who himself also wrote seventeen quartets. The piece is pastoral throughout, from the moderato first movement, with a beautiful central section, to the short Interlude and Scherzo. The last movement is a stimulating Theme and Variations with an exceptionally good Finale.

In the eighth quartet Alwyn consolidates elements of its two predecessors while experimenting with questions of form. The piece is in seven sections (tracks 9-11), six of which are quite brief but they demonstrate a wide variety of mood and tempo, as Alwyn ingeniously develops his opening material. The last section, the length of the preceding six, demonstrates the same ability to sum up a work’s material that Alwyn showed in Quartet No. 7.

In the ninth quartet Alwyn takes a totally different tack. As long-time Alwyn (and Rawsthorne) expert Andrew Knowles points out in his excellent notes, the ninth is really a tone-poem deriving from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, specifically from Act 5, Scene 3-Romeo’s death. The quartet’s expressivity may remind listeners of the composer’s film music rather than of the previous three quartets. But all of the drama of this scene is distilled into quartet form, and the mournful middle section is especially notable. The compression of material is even more skillful than in Quartet No. 8. The quartet dies away at the end-a fitting coda.

The Villiers Quartet deserves nothing but praise for their work on this recording. They show real verve in all the quartets, especially in No. 7, and the clarity of the contrapuntal lines throughout the performances is exceptional. Each member of the quartet contributes beautiful solo work when called upon. The acoustic at Wyastone Leys again demonstrates its fine qualities, especially for chamber music. These recordings were made before James Dickenson left the Villiers Quartet and are a fitting tribute to his time with them. This disc is essential for all those interested in Alwyn, and a fine example of performance and recording into the bargain.

William Kreindler

Previous reviews: Jonathan Woolf ~ John France

Performers
James Dickenson (violin), Tamaki Higashi (violin), Carmen Flores (viola), Nick Stringfellow (cello)



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus