Pehr Henrik Nordgren received composition lessons starting from 1958 in Helsinki and studied musicology at the university from 1962 to 1967, as well as receiving private tuition from Joonas Kokkonen from 1965 to 1969. At the Tokyo University of the Arts, he supplemented his composition studies from 1970 to 1973 with Yoshio Hasegawa and became acquainted with traditional Japanese music, which soon became an influence in his works.
Impressive and ultimately accessible 20th Century quartets by Welsh composer Daniel Jones (1912-1993) performed with absolute grip and certainty by the Delme ensemble. What is most remarkable in Jones is the wide dispersion of his musical intellect. The seemingly natural variety of his compositional thinking and the depth of his concentration are staggering. And perhaps this is the best way to describe these eight works: complex "concentrations." While not paralleling contemporary downlanders like Bax, Bridge or Simpson, yet venturing much further than the prototypes of Prokofiev, Shostakovich or Bartok, but eschewing ………..
These quartets are Juilliard specialties, and anyone wanting to hear this music played with a near ideal combination of virtuosity and humanity need look no further. Carter's quartets are not for the musically faint of heart: they are uncompromisingly thorny, intricate pieces that require lots of intense, dedicated listening. Very few people doubt their seriousness–or even their claims to musical greatness–but just as few people enjoy listening to them. Perhaps this spectacular set will encourage the adventurous to give them a shot. They're worth the time.
It has been awhile since anyone recorded a new disc of Charles Ives' string quartets, and here the Blair String Quartet takes the plunge. He only wrote two numbered quartets that are like equivalents to night and day – the radiant, camp meeting-inspired First Quartet and the furiously punk-meets-transcendentalism Second. String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army," dates from 1898 and contains some of Ives' finest instrumental music couched in a reasonably stable and conventional style.
Remembered in the west almost solely for his Soviet-era ballet The Red Poppy – and even then, for one popular selection from it, the energetic "Dance of the Russian Sailors" – Reinhold Glière is long overdue for a revival. If this 2006 recording by the Pulzus String Quartet of two of Glière's four string quartets gives any indication of his music's potential appeal, then it's high time that this neglected oeuvre is reassessed, both by ensembles in search of new repertoire and labels in need of fresh material.
On this recording of The Seven Words, the Rosamunde String Quartet offers a compelling rendition of one of Haydn's most complex compositions. The Seven Words was originally composed for a full orchestra as a series of seven adagios, which were meant to be interludes during a congregation's meditations on the last seven words of Christ on the Cross. Haydn struggled with a way to compose seven connected pieces of music that were solemn and yet varied enough to keep the listener from getting bored. The members of the Rosamunde Quartet are technically brilliant as they demonstrate the composer's solutions to this musical puzzle. Even though the tempo is slow, they never let the music become ponderous or oppressive. But to Haydn, The Seven Words was more than just an aural conundrum. He felt the composition was perhaps his most sacred work, and the quartet plays this music with reverence for the composer's spiritual intentions. This is a profound piece of music, and the Rosamunde does it justice on each of its many levels.
If you don't already have any recordings of Beethoven's late string quartets, by all means get this one by the Alban Berg Quartet. There hasn't been a set to equal it since it was originally released in a different configuration in the early '90s - the Emerson's overly enthusiastic but not especially insightful set? oh, come on! - and there hadn't been many to equal it before the '90s, only the Quartetto Italiano's wonderfully balanced and incredibly lovely set, the Quatuor Végh's supremely intense and transcendentally sublime set, and the Berg's own earlier, extremely concentrated and austerely passionate studio set.
Haydn wrote the six quartets of Opp 54 and 55 in 1788, by now a celebrated composer across Europe and still opera Kapellmeister at Esterházy. These period instrument players, whose very name declares their affinity for Haydn, excel in the latest in their Hyperion series. Ever spry in fast movements, faultless in dexterity and intonation, they find a special warmth of feeling in the slower moments: the songful Adagio Cantabile of Op 55 No 1, the puzzling, melancholy Andante of Op 55 No 2, the dark, hymn-like first bars of Op 54 No 2’s Adagio, out of which the violin soars in almost improvised, bluesy reverie. Too many pleasures to enumerate. Try for yourself.