Vanishing Barriers: The Callino Quartet performs works by Rachel Stott

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COMPOSERS: Rachel Stott
LABELS: Omnibus Classics
WORKS: Vanishing Barriers: String Quartets Nos 2 & 3; Fugue in Bulgarian Rhythm; Straw Bubbles II; Moto Perpetuo; Six Ragtime Arrangements; Cailén ó chois tSéure mé
PERFORMER: Callino Quartet


This collection of string quartet works by Rachel Stott is somewhat baffling. Titled Vanishing Barriers, the CD promises to cross the boundaries enclosing Western art music, and features Stott’s works inspired by other musical cultures, from Eastern European folk traditions to American Ragtime, alongside compositions for children and works sparked by scientific discovery. Yet in its quest for breadth, the disc feels more like a confusing potpourri than a compelling argument against musical pigeon-holing.

Stott’s second string quartet, The Enchanted Lyre, is the richest, most satisfying work on the disc. Sparked by her encounter with an early precursor of the telegraph machine, the piece trembles and hums to invoke vibrations passing along a wire, and is performed with poise and an aptly pure tone by the excellent Callino Quartet. Other works include the accomplished but relentlessly buoyant Fugue in Bulgarian Rhythm, six rather straight ‘Ragtime arrangements’, and Moto Perpetuo, a work for children to participate in scored for string quartet and boomwhackers (plastic tubes which when struck against a surface produce a pitched ‘boom’) – except this recording inexplicably includes no boomwhackers, just the rather twee quartet accompaniment. The Callino Quartet offer stylish, characterful performances throughout but cannot retrieve this rather muddled miscellany.


Kate Wakeling