COMPOSERS: D Matthews
LABELS: Toccata Classics
WORKS: D Matthews: String Quartets Nos 1-3; Mirror Canon; Scriabin: Prelude, Op. 74/4 (arr. Matthews)
PERFORMER: Kreutzer Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: TOCC 0060
The earliest work here, Mirror Canon, is a brief student exercise akin to 17th-century consort music in its grave charm. Otherwise, compared to the sinewy, melodious and rhythmic quartets heard in earlier volumes of this series (a style recognisably evolved from Tippett and Britten), David Matthews’s Quartets Nos 1-3 sound more amorphous with a closer kinship to early-20th century modernism. Quartet No. 1, composed 1969-70 (revised ten years later to forge a single movement out of its original two), appears influenced by Schoenberg, Bartók and, in some of its aphoristic yet highly expressive melodic fragments, Janácek.
Quartet No. 2 (1974-76) is more ‘of its time’, the Scherzo’s chugging rhythms inspired by The Who and Velvet Underground. Its final Elegy includes ghostly music flickering between harmonics and silvery sul ponticello, darkening as its tessitura descends. Tippett’s influence in Quartet No. 3 (1977-78) emerges in its bouncy rhythms and in some of its harmonies; there are also touches of Ravelian magic in some of the high writing. The Kreutzer Quartet give strong advocacy with atmospheric and expressive accounts. Daniel Jaffé