Meyer, Rorem

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COMPOSERS: Meyer,Rorem
LABELS: DG
WORKS: Quintet; String Quartet No. 4
PERFORMER: Emerson String QuartetEdgar Meyer (double bass)
CATALOGUE NO: 453 506-2
Edgar Meyer (b1960) leavens his Quintet of 1995 with dancy, irregular metres and an eclectic array of musical styles – the theme, subjected to variation in the first movement, drips folksy nostalgia, the second movement is a jazzily slithery hoedown, and so on. The piece, although entertaining, also makes a substantial impression that can no doubt be attributed in part to the committed advocacy of the Emerson String Quartet and the composer on bass.

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In the ten movements of his String Quartet No. 4 (1994), Ned Rorem (b1923) offers a series of sounding meditations on paintings by Picasso. As such, the music is both apt (driving dissonance in ‘Minotaur’, perilous swoops in ‘Acrobat on a Ball’, poised momentum in ‘Still Life’) and challenging (fast tempi for ‘Basket of Flowers’ and ‘Three Nudes’, frantic cello outbursts against an aloof background in ‘Self Portrait’), but Rorem’s striking musical images and taut discourse also make an impressive effect without visual corollaries. As in the Meyer, the Emerson String Quartet couples exemplary affinity for the music with its customary lean intensity and awesome technical control. David Breckbill