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Malcolm Arnold: String Quartet No. 1, Op. 23
I. Allegro commodo
IV. Allegro con spirito
Malcolm Arnold: String Quartet No. 2, Op. 118
II. Maestoso con molto rubato - Allegro vivace
IV. Allegretto - Vivace - Lento
Malcolm Arnold: Phantasy, "Vita Abundans"
String Quartet Phantasy, "Vita Abundans"
“…this is lean music with no wasted notes, and it’s strikingly performed, with concentration in the playing and detail in the recording.”
“Here's a disc to demonstrate Arnold's gift of bringing out from whatever medium he is using sounds that are utterly original. Even in the very early Phantasy, he was using quartet writing with a confidence and originality which rightly won him a prize in the Cobbett competition in 1941. In both of the numbered quartets Arnold opens abrasively, almost as though he is seeking to demonstrate his modernity before relaxing into a more approachable, lyrical idiom. In No 1 (1949) the opening brings high entries for all four instruments, and if later there are one or two indications that he was influenced by the quartets of Bartók, particularly in the Scherzo, the echoes are only peripheral and in no way obscure the composer's originality. The Andante brings a poignant melody, leading into the energetic finale. The Second Quartet (1975) is generally sparer, with the bold opening involving the instruments in pairs, leading to a sequence of bold and striking ideas, well contrasted. For all the profusion of material, there is nothing perfunctory about the result. Nor is there in the opening solo violin passage, leading to an Allegro vivace main section like a Celtic dance. The Andante is spare and dark in its 'desolate polyphony', deeply meditative in the Maggini's superb performance, leading to a powerful climax and a hushed close. The finale opens with a violin melody over tremolos, a piece full of elusive shifts linked by the main theme, resolving in a warm, broad melody, and final emphatic chords. The Maggini performances achieve new standards and their bargain disc offers a valuable supplement in the Phantasy.”
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