Roger Sessions: String Quartet

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
A quick glance at his discography reveals that Roger Sessions' chamber works are seriously under-recorded; while this 2006 Naxos album of works for strings appears to be a welcome addition to a lamentably meager catalog, it is really a reissue of the 1993 release by the Group for Contemporary Music on Koch International Classics. However, it is absolutely worth having, since the Koch CD is no longer available, and no other ensemble or label has brought as many of Sessions' chamber pieces together in one package. Listeners just beginning to explore his fascinating music may choose to start off with the "String Quartet No. 1 in E minor" 1938, since it bears some ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
A quick glance at his discography reveals that Roger Sessions' chamber works are seriously under-recorded; while this 2006 Naxos album of works for strings appears to be a welcome addition to a lamentably meager catalog, it is really a reissue of the 1993 release by the Group for Contemporary Music on Koch International Classics. However, it is absolutely worth having, since the Koch CD is no longer available, and no other ensemble or label has brought as many of Sessions' chamber pieces together in one package. Listeners just beginning to explore his fascinating music may choose to start off with the "String Quartet No. 1 in E minor" 1938, since it bears some interesting resemblances to Beethoven's "String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132," and is a product of Sessions' neo-Classical phase. Even though it is not tonal in the traditional sense it only touches on key-like areas tangentially, and vaguely implies chromatic modulations in its active developments, this early quartet is not one of Sessions' more advanced dodecaphonic compositions. The other important work on the program, the "Quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas and cello" 1958, is more challenging than the comparatively accessible string quartet, yet it is more deeply satisfying, especially so for those with an appreciation for richly expressive and refined twelve-tone music. Sessions' ideas are logical, balanced, and fully integrated in this concentrated serial work, but one comes away from it recalling only the poignant lyricism of its long lines, the beauty of its transparent textures, and the richness of its harmonies. Put simply, this is one of the most eloquent chamber works of the twentieth century, and the vibrant performance by the Group for Contemporary Music is the CD's true high point, not to be missed. The extremely short and muted "Canons to the memory of Igor Stravinsky for string quartet" 1971 and the "Six Pieces for Cello" 1966 are less essential fare, though some may find they are needed to clear the air between the two featured works. Koch's audio reproduction is fine, though a cut below the higher standards one associates with Naxos' original recordings.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/16/2006
  • Label: Naxos American
  • UPC: 636943926123
  • Catalog Number: 8559261
  • Sales rank: 346,728

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–3 Quintet for 2 violins, 2 violas & cello - Roger Sessions & Columbia University Group for Contemporary Music (20:22)
    Composed byRoger Sessions
    1. 1Movemento tranquillo
    2. 2Adagio ed espressivo
    3. 3Allegro appassionato
  2. 4 Canons for string quartet, "To the Memory of Igor Stravinsky" - Roger Sessions & Columbia University Group for Contemporary Music (2:02)
    Composed byRoger Sessions
  3. 5–10 Pieces (6) for cello - Roger Sessions & Joshua Gordon (12:51)
    Composed byRoger Sessions
    1. 5Prelude (Allegro energico)
    2. 6Dialogue (Andante)
    3. 7Scherzo (Allegro)
    4. 8Berceuse (Lento e dolce)
    5. 9Fantasy (Con fantasia)
    6. 10Epilogue (Adagio molto)
  4. 11–13 String Quartet No. 1 in E minor - Roger Sessions & Columbia University Group for Contemporary Music (30:41)
    Composed byRoger Sessions
    1. 11Tempo moderato
    2. 12Adagio molto
    3. 13Vivace molto
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Columbia University Group for Contemporary Music Primary Artist
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