Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Michael Tippett: String Qaurtets Nos 1, 2 and 4

Michael TIPPETT (1905-1998) String Quartet No.1 in A major (1934-5, rev.1943) String Quartet No.2 in F sharp major, (1941-2) String Quartet No.4 (1977-78)
The Tippett Quartet NAXOS 8.570496

There are only two recordings of the complete Michael Tippett String Quartets currently available. The Lindsays concluded their cycle in 1992, with the first three having been recorded in 1975. For many years, apart from the odd chamber concert or private hearing, their cycle has been the only medium for exploring these seminal works. And excellent they are too. However, all Tippett enthusiasts will be delighted that the eponymous Quartet has been selected by Naxos to make a new reading of these superb pieces.
Since hearing the first three Quartets way back in 1975, I have agreed with commentators that these works are critical to an understanding of Tippett. The Fourth and Fifth Quartets chart the composer’s progress into a different soundscape, but remain essential to an appreciation of his career… …this CD will appeal strongly to all interested in the chamber music of Michael Tippett. The three works as performed with great technical skill, articulation and sheer understanding of the music. Naturally there is a hiatus in style between the first two Quartets and the last.
Yet the Tippett Quartet are equally at home with the lyrical demands of the earlier works as they are with the more complex, dissonant and involved structures of the last. However, if the listener needs a sample of the sheer perfection of this recording, they only need to listen to the Lento cantabile of the A major Quartet. This is surely one of the most beautiful and moving pieces of music in Tippett’s catalogue in particular and in English music in general.

Please read the full review at MusicWeb Internaitonal

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