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Howard Blake: Spieltrieb, String Trio, A Month In The Country / Edinburgh Quartet

> Spieltrieb, Op. 594 - Spieltrieb, Op. 594
> A Month in the Country, Op. 611 - I. Idyll: Larghetto, espressivo
> A Month in the Country, Op. 611 - II. March: Alla marcia, tempo giusto
> A Month in the Country, Op. 611 - III. Elegy: Adagio
> A Month in the Country, Op. 611 - IV. Scherzo: Scherzando
> A Month in the Country, Op. 611 - V. Finale: Andante espressivo
> Leda and the Swan, Op. 249a - Leda and the Swan, Op. 249a
> String Trio, Op. 199 - I. Allegro energico
> String Trio, Op. 199 - II. Andante doloroso
> String Trio, Op. 199 - III. Allegro capriccioso
> Walking in the Air (version for string quartet), Op. 615 - Walking in the Air (version for string quartet), Op. 615

Album Summary

>Blake, Howard : Spieltraub, for string quartet, Op. 594
>Blake, Howard : Suite for strings "Month in the Country"
>Blake, Howard : Leda and the Swan, for string quartet, Op. 249a
>Blake, Howard : String Trio, Op. 199
>Blake, Howard : Walking in the Air, for string quartet, Op. 615
Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Howard Blake is well known for his superbly effective film scores, and this program brings première string quartet recordings of the award-winning music for A Month in the Country and the famous Walking in the Air theme from The Snowman. New discoveries emerge in the sensual and atmospheric ballet Leda and the Swan, and a specially revised String Trio. One of Britain's foremost and senior ensembles, The Edinburgh Quartet celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with the commission of Blake's dramatic Spieltrieb.

"Listening to the music on this CD of chamber instrumental works confirms that Blake is quite good at this kind of “scenic” and “thematic” musical conceptualization, ideal for the world of film and television scoring, which Blake is well-known for... Indeed, it’s difficult to listen to any of the works here, even the non-programmatic pieces, without some images coming to mind, or without thinking “movie-music”. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing; in fact, this entire disc makes for a very pleasant hour of listening—and after all, the suite A Month in the Country was music for the film of the same name, Leda and the Swan was for television, and “Walking in the Air” for radio... And this quartet, for whose 50th anniversary the Spieltrieb was written, is fine indeed, the group’s present membership not only upholding the ensemble’s long-established artistic excellence, but managing the numerous thematic/rhythmic/tempo shifts with technical ease and overall cohesiveness, the entire recital imbued with a spirit of shared enjoyment among the players. This program not only opens the door for listening to more of Blake’s music (his Violin Sonata, Piano Quartet, and Passion of Mary are also available from this same label), but certainly initiates an order for more from the Edinburgh Quartet." -Classics Today

Catholic News Agency
This is all immediately likable music.

MusicWeb International
Blake's lovely pastoral music for A Month in the Country won him the British Film Institute's Anthony Asquith Award for Musical Excellence. In 1992 Blake created a suite for string orchestra from his film score which he later transcribed most effectively for string quartet. The music speaks eloquently of the healing balm - the serenity of the English countryside - experienced by the two soldiers who had suffered the horrors of the Great War. The opening Idyll is a tranquil evocation of a sunlit peaceful countryside, all still except for the warbling of birds: upper divided strings tremolando. The brief second movement is a march with unfeeling, remorseless rhythms as the soldiers march blindly to their fate. The central Elegy: Adagio speaks movingly of the pity of war and reaches a climax that screams of the terrors of the trenches. The Scherzo is a rustic dance briefly turned sour by discordant memories. The finale brings a resolution in the realisation of Beauty and hoped for optimism heralded by birdsong.

American Record Guide
This collection of chamber music for strings opens with Spieltrieb (2008), a string quartet that deals with the idea of "the urge to play" in music, which the composer explores in what amounts to a 14-minute compositional improvisation. Pleasantly tonal, it's a stream-of-consciousness elaboration of a string of unassuming ideas, ending with a lovely nativity song...

The Classical Review
The Edinburgh String Quartet plays with relaxed discipline, pushing the music where required and letting it unfold calmly as apposite. The sound is clear and warm. The booklet notes are signed by Blake himself but veer into the third person after a while which suggest they might be a composite - but another writer would have been less casual about the music: Blake writes about it in a refreshingly relaxed manner.

La Scena Musicale
Best known for his children's cartoon score, The Snowman, Howard Blake is a serious, prolific composer with more than 600 opus numbers to his credit. The title piece is an adaptation of a Colin Firth war film for the Edinburgh String Quartet. Interlacing lyricism with sporadic rage, it exerts a fierce grip on the ear. The CD contains three other Blake pieces, ending with a discreet Snowman bonus.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Reid Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (06/05/2010-06/07/2010).



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Works Details

>Blake, Howard : Spieltraub, for string quartet, Op. 594
  • Ensemble: Edinburgh Quartet
  • Notes: Reid Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (06/05/2010-06/07/2010)
  • Running Time: 14 min. 12 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2008

>Blake, Howard : Suite for strings "Month in the Country"
  • Notes: Reid Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (06/05/2010-06/07/2010)
  • Running Time: 13 min. 8 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1986

>Blake, Howard : Leda and the Swan, for string quartet, Op. 249a
  • Notes: Reid Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (06/05/2010-06/07/2010)
  • Running Time: 9 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1977

>Blake, Howard : String Trio, Op. 199
  • Notes: Reid Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (06/05/2010-06/07/2010)
  • Running Time: 11 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 1975

>Blake, Howard : Walking in the Air, for string quartet, Op. 615
  • Notes: Reid Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland (06/05/2010-06/07/2010)
  • Running Time: 6 min. 17 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2010