Nyman: String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4 (excerpts); If; Why; Miserere Paraphrase; In Re Don Giovanni

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Nyman
LABELS: Black Box
WORKS: String Quartet No. 2; String Quartet No. 3; String Quartet No. 4 (excerpts); If; Why; Miserere Paraphrase; In Re Don Giovanni
PERFORMER: Lyric Quartet, members of the Michael Nyman Band; Simon Haram (saxophone), Liz Burley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: BBM 1020
This disc has made me rethink my attitudes to Michael Nyman’s music altogether. I used to be a fan, then grew weary of the incessant pounding rhythms and became dubious about Nyman’s motives for accepting some strange commissions. So I was prepared to pick out the usual faults in this new disc from the Lyric Quartet, but the players’ energised, persuasive performances have entirely convinced me of the pieces’ worth. There’s some glorious music here – subtle rhythmic intricacies in the Second Quartet, wry harmonic twists and turns in the Fourth – and the young players bring a freshness and an infectious energy to it all, avoiding the overstated melodramata that marks performances by Nyman’s usual band. Even the arrangements come off well: in the Miserere Paraphrase, Jonathan Carney’s solo line is radiant, and In Re Don Giovanni loses none of its wit in this reduced instrumentation. If I have one criticism, it is that more than 70 minutes of similarly textured string quartets can become a little tiring, so it’s probably better to take the disc in smaller doses. But if there’s such a thing as subtle Nyman, this is it. David Kettle

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