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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, strictly speaking, and the works brought together here remain, up to the present day, 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 twenty years.
Birtwistle: The Tree of Strings (2007)
The Tree of Strings
Birtwistle: Movements for String Quartet (1991-96)
Todesfuge - Frieze 4
“The Ardittis have mastered the constant turning on dimes that this mercurial writing demands, moving effortlessly between different dynamics and attacks, while still keeping the music tightly coiled.”
“Obviously enough, [the] theatrical aspect cannot be reproduced on audio disc, but The Tree of Strings still comes across as one of Birtwistle's most powerfully sustained and expressively compelling musical designs.”
3rd May 2012
“[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.”