Holmboe: String Quartet No. 17 (Mattinata); String Quartet No. 19 (Serata); String Quartet No. 20 (Notturno)

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LABELS: Dacapo
WORKS: String Quartet No. 17 (Mattinata); String Quartet No. 19 (Serata); String Quartet No. 20 (Notturno)
PERFORMER: Kontra Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.224128
With these two issues, the Kontra Quartet completes its survey of the Holmboe string quartets. It was the medium with which he had a lifelong preoccupation and in which he felt most completely at home. In all he composed 20, plus the Quartetto sereno, on which he was working in the last year of his life and which he left incomplete. (It has been put into a performing version by his erstwhile pupil, Per Nørgård.) In addition he wrote but never published at least ten other quartets between 1926 and 1944 before his official First (1949). As their titles show, the last four quartets form an entity on the theme of the times of the day from morning to evening. They were composed in relatively quick succession: Nos 17-19 all come from 1982, though Mattinata (Morning) and Serata (Evening) were revised a year or so later. Notturno (Night) comes from 1985. The Sixteenth Quartet (1981) was recorded in the days of LP by the Copenhagen Quartet, otherwise these are all first recordings. This is pure – and purifying – music, its effect on the listener cleansing. They share the same distinction of mind and elevation of feeling that characterise the rest of the cycle. Dedicated performances and good recorded sound. Robert Layton