Ronald Corp: String Quartets Nos. 1 "The Bustard" & 2; Country Mattersby Maggini Quartet
Ronald Corp is best known as a conductor and as a composer of choral music, but he has also ventured into the fields of orchestral and chamber music. This CD features three works for string quartet, one of them a song cycle for tenor and quartet. "Country Matters," a seven-song cycle that uses the poetry of Steve Mainwaring, is the earliest piece, a student work dating from 1972. Mainwaring's poetry is mostly of the silly variety, which Corp's accompaniment matches in its whimsicality. About half of the texts are delivered as Sprechstimme. Corp's first "String Quartet," from 2008, is a substantial piece, driven by a compelling lyrical logic. Corp's musical language is characterized by a tonality similar to that of mid-20th century British post-pastoral composers. The quartet was inspired by the bustard, the world's largest flying bird, which was once common in Britain and is being reestablished there. Although the piece is not specifically programmatic, many of its themes are evocative of soaring. The "Second String Quartet" is more conventional and less distinctive, but it should interest fans of new tonal chamber music. The Maggini Quartet plays expertly and with commitment and precision.
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