Maxwell Davies: Naxos Quartets Nos. 3 & 4

Maxwell Davies: Naxos Quartets Nos. 3 & 4

by Maggini Quartet
     
 

When it comes to bringing little-known music to light, the Naxos label has long done more than its share. But when they commissioned one of Great Britain's elder musical statesmen, Peter Maxwell Davies, for a set of ten string quartets, they dove into still more ambitious waters. The first recorded volume appeared in 2004, theSee more details below

Overview

When it comes to bringing little-known music to light, the Naxos label has long done more than its share. But when they commissioned one of Great Britain's elder musical statesmen, Peter Maxwell Davies, for a set of ten string quartets, they dove into still more ambitious waters. The first recorded volume appeared in 2004, the year of the composer's 70th birthday, and was widely hailed as an auspicious beginning. This second release in the series sustains the promise of the first, even as it suggests that we're going to have to wait until the entire cycle is in our hands to take its full measure. For one thing, Maxwell Davies seems to be building connections among the works; his liner notes point out how the Third Quartet picks up on threads left hanging in the First. Yet both the Third and Fourth are absorbing and thought provoking on their own, too. The Fourth, a single movement lasting 25 minutes, is especially rewarding, pervaded by a melancholy, meditative lyricism that is sometimes reminiscent of Alban Berg. A few lively passages aside, however, it's difficult to grasp why this solemn work is subtitled "Children's Games," even after reading the composer's comments. Similarly, the Third Quartet bears few audible traces of the context the composer claims for it: his reaction to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. (Indeed, one might do best to experience this music on its own before consulting his printed remarks.) A beautiful, Renaissance-inspired second movement, "In Nomine," is the highlight of this quartet, but a compelling thread is sustained throughout. As for the performers, the Maggini Quartet has been a leading light at Naxos for several years -- practically the in-house quartet for anything British, from Bax to Bliss to Bridge -- and thanks to their commitment, the Maxwell Davies quartets are already sounding like 21st-century classics.

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Editorial Reviews

Gramophone - Andrew Achenbach
Davies's immaculately judged part-writing displays a bracing mastery of the idiom and, needless to say, the Maggini's once again play with superlative poise and intelligence. Both sound and balance are first- rate. I impatiently await the next installment.
Birmingham Post - David Hart
This is mature music full of emotional power, intellectual rigour and fascinating aural perspectives, especially in its quieter moments.... The immediacy and understanding of this wonderful ensemble, expressed by tonal richness, perfect technique and musical sensitivity of the highest order, pulls one into Maxwell Davies's difficult music with an almost hypnotic force. Irresistible.

Product Details

Release Date:
04/19/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313239726
catalogNumber:
8557397
Rank:
225432

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Naxos Quartet No. 4 for string quartet ("Children's Games"), J. 424  - Peter Maxwell Davies  - Laurence Jackson  -  Maggini Quartet  - Martin Outram  - Michal Kaznowski  - David Angel
  2. Naxos Quartet No. 3 for string quartet, J. 415  - Peter Maxwell Davies  - Laurence Jackson  -  Maggini Quartet  - Martin Outram  - Michal Kaznowski  - David Angel

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