WORKS: String Quartets No. 1 (The Bustard) & No. 2; Country Matters
PERFORMER: Mark Wilde (tenor); Maggini Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.5725782
First Haydn’s Lark, now Ronald Corp’s The Bustard – a noble bird enthusiastically eaten by the Victorians and currently being rehabilitated on Salisbury Plain. The second movement of Corp’s Quartet (Mesto semplice) paints the Plain in atmospheric darkness, but marginally overstays its welcome, a problem also with the measured introduction to the Finale, depicting the giant bird’s gait and deportment. The opening Moderato and the Scherzo are more succinct and mobile: fluttering ostinatos successfully mimic the creature’s flight, and soaring lyrical ideas its ascent into the ether. These are lovely movements.
Quartet No. 2 is, in Corp’s words, a ‘sister work’. The three fast movements rely over-much on repetitious short motifs passed from one instrument to another, though the work certainly creates an upbeat impression, with a more introspective slow movement. Between the Quartets is Country Matters, a cycle of seven songs to poems by Steve Mainwaring that Corp describes as ‘variously poignant and riotously outrageous’. They are set with brio, to a deftly fashioned quartet accompaniment, in a style mixing Façade-style Waltonian Sprechgesang with melodic writing. Mark Wilde and the Maggini Quartet show exemplary enthusiasm. Terry Blain