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.
Franz Liszt, writing about Grieg's String Quartet No 1, declared: 'It is long time since I have encountered a new composition, especially a string quartet, which has intrigued me as greatly as this distinctive and admirable work by Grieg'. Grieg himself said that his quartet '… aims at breadth; to soar, and above all at a vigorous sound for the instruments for which it is written.' In 1891, Edvard Grieg started his second quartet, but sadly lacked inspiration and time to finish the last two movements. Levon Chilingirian of the Chilingirian Quartet has studied the original manuscripts of the first two movements (which have many clarifying instructions added by Julius Röntgen in preparation for their printing by C F Peters in 1908) and prepared the third and fourth movements especially for this recording. This is therefore a first recording of the completed String Quartet No 2.
In his 16 quartets for two violins, viola, and cello, Beethoven created a Mount Everest for string players and some of the most sublime, unforgettable music ever written. Continuing to astound listeners after 200 years, these glorious quartets give voice to the innermost landscape of the human heart and spirit. They stand, like Michelangelo's statues or the plays of Shakespeare, at the pinnacle of Western art.
GRAMOPHONE Magazine Editor's Choice - October 2015.The Artemis Quartet pairs Brahms’ intense first quartet with his lighter-spirited third quartet, both works that the Artemis’ cellist, Eckart Runge, describes as “remarkable and multi-faceted”. He says that “Brahms marries a Romantic spirit with the structure and forms of Classicism. There is an almost symphonic approach in the writing, but at the same time the quartets are imbued with a sense of warmth, immediacy, friendship and love that is interwoven with a more spiritual, timeless beauty”.
The Mandelring Quartet plays with unflinching resolve, sympathetic expression, incisive attacks, and penetrating tone, which are all necessary in Shostakovich's sardonic and frequently bitter language.
There is nothing to criticize here and plenty to enjoy. As with previous releases in this series, the playing of Florilegium is the last word in graciousness and elegance, and the music itself is unfailingly inventive and charming. I’m thinking in particular of the quietly humorous “Distrait” movement from the Sixth Quartet, with its delicious echo effects at the ends of phrases, or the gorgeous Courante from the B-minor suite. The Fourth Quartet shares the same key, and its “Triste” also represents one of the disc’s highlights. In fact, three of the four works here feature minor keys, the exception being the A major quartet No. 5, with its opening Vivement prelude and two sections marked “Gai” (though one of them is only “un peu”).