Tippet

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COMPOSERS: Tippet
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: String Quartet No. 5
PERFORMER: Lindsay String Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 879 DDD
The Lindsay Quartet gave the first performance of Tippett’s String Quartet No. 5 in Sheffield in May last year. This disc enterprisingly recreates the whole programme of that concert in studio recordings – a seemingly unorthodox mixture, but one that works surprisingly well.

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The Lindsays have had a long association with Tippett’s quartets – they recorded the first three in the Seventies and both the Fourth (1978) and the Fifth (1991) were written for them. Hence the feeling here that they have been playing this new work for years, so at one are they with Tippett’s idiosyncratic requirements.

The quartet itself is typical of Tippett’s recent work, with its lyricism and ecstatic string writing (often reminiscent of The Mask of Time and the opera New Year), yet at the same time harking back to the sprung rhythms and radiant cantilenas of his earliest quartets, intriguingly by-passing the more astringent world of No. 4.

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The couplings provide a fascinating context, with works by Tippett’s teachers Charles Wood (an Elgarian Quartet in A minor) and RO Morris (three unacademic-sounding Canzoni ricertati), a brief fanfare by Christopher Brown and three fantasias by Purcell, a composer whose consort music is alluded to in Tippett’s quartet. Matthew Rye