Notes & Reviews:
Harrison Birtwistle is unquestionably one of the most frequently performed British composers on the contemporary scene. Although bowed strings are the raison d'être of this disc, their absence is no less conspicuous in the composer's early and mature works, for he waited until he was nearly 60 before writing for string quartet, and the works brought together here remain his only original works written exclusively for strings. The recording of these works by the Arditti Quartet, dedicatee of the String Quartet: The Tree of Strings (which was composed for them) reflects the most recent development resulting from Birtwistle's working with this ensemble over the past 20 years.
[The Tree of Strings is] one of the most powerful of his recent works, alternating moments of total stillness with passages of great athleticism and rhythmic energy, or long, continuously evolving melodic lines....their performances here are...remarkable for their clarity, precision and grasp of the music's intricate structure.
American Record Guide, November/December 2012
9 Movements for String Quartet (1991-96) also lasts half an hour. It is a suite of three or four minute movements ("Fantasias" and "Friezes") composed of varying textures and expressions, the last being a 'Death Fugue'. The last six pieces come from the quartet sections of a previous piece, Pulse Shadows(1996), a song cycle for soprano, two clarinets, and quartet on poems of Paul Celan (Teldec 26867, M/A 2002). The first three little movements are new. I said everything I had to say about these pieces in my earlier review. Both performances are with the Arditti Quartet, this one a new recording.
Recording information: Studio Stolberger Strasse, Köln.
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Works DetailsBirtwistle, Harrison : The Tree of Strings, for string quartet
- Ensemble: Arditti Quartet
- Notes: Studio Stolberger Strasse, Köln (04/15/2010-04/16/2010)
- Running Time: 29 min. 1 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Written: 2007
Birtwistle, Harrison : Movements (9), for string quartet
- Notes: Studio Stolberger Strasse, Köln (05/18/2010-05/19/2010)
- Running Time: 29 min. 6 sec.
- Period Time: Contemporary
- Written: 1991-1996