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What Remains (Dudok Quartet)

Dudok Quartet Amsterdam (Rubicon)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

What Remains
Messiaen: Fête des belles eaux – Oraison; Reich: Different Trains; Roukens: String Quartet No. 4 ‘What Remains’; plus works by Gesualdo, Machaut, Messiaen and Pérotin
Dudok Quartet Amsterdam
Rubicon RCD1110   65:42 mins

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The album’s title work is Joey Roukens’s fourth string quartet, composed in 2019 for the Dudok Quartet. The work itself meditates on music, form and memory, and acts as a prelude to the ensemble’s exploration of time, sound and motion, stretching from the 13th to the 20th centuries.

Other works on this intriguing and absorbing album include arrangements of one of the earliest examples of notated music, Pérotin’s Viderunt omnes; the Kyrie from De Machaut’s Messe de Nostre Dame; and a madrigal by Gesualdo. These pieces provide historical context for haunting and at times blistering renditions of the ‘Oraison’ from Messiaen’s Fêtes des belles eaux and Steve Reich’s Different Trains.

Aurally, the themes of time, journey and motion are not always easily identifiable across the different works – the programme would work better if it could be seen as well as heard. Still, the Dudok Quartet’s playing is vigorous, intense and at times thrilling. Roukens’s string quartet in particular merits repeated and rewarded listening.

Reich’s Different Trains, with its Second World War narrative and magnetic tape sound effects and voice overs, is almost cinematic in its effect. The work is slightly let down, however, by the recorded sound’s dry and strangely two-dimensional quality.

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John-Pierre Joyce