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The Maggini Quartet’s Naxos recordings of English string quartets by composers from Alwyn to Walton have gained numerous awards and critical plaudits. Their recording of Edmund Rubbra’s String Quartet No. 2 (8572286) was praised as ‘superbly integrated… undeniably a great success’ by Gramophone.
The English composer Edmund Rubbra described the string quartet as ‘the purest and most lucid texture available to a composer’, his essays in the form enlivened by Beethovenian vigour and song-like beauty.
It is a testament to his profound compositional craftsmanship that even when deploying diverse rhythms simultaneously or releasing the latent potential of what he called the ‘most positive yet mysterious intervals’, Rubbra weaves fascinating musical textures into a satisfying whole.
His remaining three string quartets, heard here, mark Rubbra as a great, though still undervalued, English composer whose music boasts an inexhaustible sense of freshness, a richly hued emotional palette and an abiding sense of optimism.
Edmund Rubbra: String Quartet No. 1 in F minor, Op. 35
I. Allegro moderato
III. Vivace (revised 1946 version)
Edmund Rubbra: String Quartet No. 3, Op. 112
I. Largo ma molto flessibile - Allegretto
III. Allegro leggiero
Edmund Rubbra: String Quartet No. 4, Op. 150
I. Andante moderato, ma liberamente - Allegretto scherzando
II. Adagio e con molta espressione
“If you like your music written by a strong, but not strident musical personality, with faultlessly clear and clean technique to match, then these three string quartets offer something special...There performances are as expected from the fine Maggini Quartet: firm-toned but never too severe, balanced to near-perfection.”
“[In the Third Quartet] one appreciates even more clearly what members of the Maggini Quartet say in the booklet-note: that Rubbra's quartet-writing displays satisfying organic development in the way that the themes evolve...This disc marks yet another superb contribution to the Magginis' survey of British string quartets.”
2nd June 2011
“this collection of the remainder sustains the impression of music that is beautifully conceived and crafted...the performances have all the usual Maggini finesse, a lean clarity and responsiveness.”
20th February 2011
“Too often bracketed with the English pastoral school, Edmund Rubbra (1901-86) was a highly individual voice in British music...This is surely music that will grow in stature, especially through these committed performances.”