Hyperion has reissued on its midpriced Helios label this fine program of English works for string quartet, recorded in 1994. The composers, born approximately 20 years apart in the order given in the headnote, offer an insight into the evolutionary trends in British music before, throughout, and after the 20th century’s two Great Wars.
In terms of the scale of his compositions, John Adams' career is somewhat anomalous for a contemporary composer. While the usual pattern tends to be for a composer to begin a career writing smaller pieces (which have a far likelier chance of being performed) and then expanding to larger forms as his or her reputation grows, Adams (with very few exceptions) was writing large-scale operas and orchestral and choral works starting in the early '80s and didn't begin devoting himself to chamber music with any regularity until the mid-'90s.
The Orford String Quartet was a Canadian string quartet active from 1965 through 1991. They came to be the leading string quartet in Canada, and one of the finest in the world. For 26 years, the Orford String Quartet was the best of its breed in Canada.
The Hollywood String Quartet (HSQ) was an American string quartet founded by violinist/conductor Felix Slatkin and his wife cellist Eleanor Aller. The Hollywood String Quartet is considered to be the first American-born and trained classical music chamber group to make an international impact, mainly through its landmark recordings. These recordings have long been regarded as among the most outstanding recorded performances of the string quartet repertoire.
They are widely recognised as the most exciting young string quartet of the present moment, bringing new insights to contemporary composition and core classical repertoire. In parallel, they have also made surprising and impressive forays into the world of Nordic folk music. Their 2014 album Wood Works (Dacapo Records) was a left-field hit, and audiences around the world have been delighted by concert performances of the music. Now the Danish String Quartet bring their folk project to ECM with a stirring new recording.
Bernstein delivered a powerful and now legendary live performance of Beethovens String Quartet Op. 135 transcribed for String Orchestra and performed by the Vienna Philharmonic. For the first time ever this performance is now being released on DVD and Blu-ray. Another definitive Bernstein performance debuting now on both mediums is the enigmatic maestros reading of Haydns Missa in tempore belli, filmed live in concert at Ottobeuren in 1984, using to maximum effect the deeply impressive setting of the monasterys magnificent Baroque basilica.