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Britten: String Quartets nos 2 & 3; Henry Purcell: Chaconnes & Fantasias / Emerson String Quartet

Notes & Reviews:

The Emerson String Quartet celebrates its 40th season this year and presents a new recording, Chaconnes and Fantasias: Music of Britten and Purcell, which will be the first release on Universal Music Classics' new US classical record label, Decca Gold, on April 21. Their US tour takes them from California to New York to Virginia this spring and summer, and on April 26 they will perform works from the new album and their extensive repertoire in celebration of the 40th anniversary at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space at WQXR.

On this new album, the Emersons explore the close affinities of the music of Henry Purcell and Benjamin Britten, arguably two of Britain's most well known composers. Included here are Britten's String Quartet Nos. 2 and 3, and Purcell's Chacony in G minor and Fantazias Nos. 6, 8, 10 and 11.

Eugene Drucker (violin) says of this album, "it's hard to believe that the music on this CD spans almost three centuries, ranging from Purcell's surprisingly pungent harmonies to Britten's distinctive voice: pitched outside the mainstream of European modernism, experimental yet deeply rooted in his extensive knowledge of older music, drawing inspiration from and breathing new life into old forms."

Britten paid homage to his great predecessor Purcell many times over as performer, arranger and composer - not least in his Second String Quartet, with its extended finale modeled on Purcell's Chacony in G minor.


Works:

Chacony for Strings in G minor, Z 730 by Henry Purcell
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: Baroque
Written: England

Fantasia for 4 Viols in F major, Z 737 by Henry Purcell
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: Baroque
Written: 1680; England

Fantasia for 4 Viols in D minor, Z 739 by Henry Purcell
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: Baroque
Written: 1680; England

Quartet for Strings no 2 in C major, Op. 36 by Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1945; England

Fantasia for 4 Viols in E minor, Z 741 by Henry Purcell
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: Baroque
Written: 1680; England

Fantasia for 4 Viols in G major, Z 742 by Henry Purcell
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: Baroque
Written: 1680; England

Quartet for Strings no 3, Op. 94 by Benjamin Britten
Orchestra/Ensemble: Emerson String Quartet
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1975; England

The Boston Globe
Now celebrating the ensemble's 40th season, the silver-haired, suit-and-tie-clad veterans... proceeded to do what they do best: distill music down to its purest essence.

The New York Times
The performances were everything we have come to expect from this superb ensemble: technically resourceful, musically insightful, cohesive, full of character and always interesting.

The Philadelphia Inquirer
Few string quartets have regularly displayed such individuality among members-- an ideal stance for coloring and differentiating the complex strands of the fugues.



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