Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Arnold Rosner - Lester Trimble - Irwin Swack - "A Second Trio of (String) Quartets" - The Alorian, Ondine, and Sierra Quartets -Opus One Records

Needless to say at this point I bought this disc years ago for Rosner's String Quartet No. 4. The other two composers were completely new to me at the time. This was the first recording of any of Rosner's String Quartets, until the priceless disc on Albany records featuring three other of Rosner's Quartets.

Rosner is at his most prickly in the Fourth Quartet with his accustomed fastidious expression and tragic inclination here magnified by highly intense drama. This piece ties in with his much later opera Chronicle of Nine. Stylistic alliances flit briefly across the auditory horizon: Shostakovich in his later quartets, Bartók and even RVW’s Tallis. The other two Quartets are good, however I confess I find the Rosner Quartet alone the reason to own this collection if one is interested in fantastic late 20th century Quartets.

Of his Fourth Quartet Rosner has written:

"Several simple observations may guide the listener in this work: 1) The language is largely chromatic but based on consonant harmonies. However, these harmonies are intensified either by major/minor effects or by moving or overlapping voices, such that purely resolved sounds occupy less than a majority of the total time. (Wagner applies this technique to more tonal vocabularies) The overlapping voice activity is probably foremost in the second movement, which draws most of its power from it. 2) Each of the movements uses, or perhaps I should say abuses, an archaic structure - French Overture, Isorhythmic Motet and Passacaglia, respectively. While a purist may argue with my treatment of each, this is not the only time I have employed any of them though it is my only work in which all the movements are in very old forms. In examples among the recorded repertoire, passacaglias can be found in my Horn Sonata, and Musique de Clavecin and a French Overture in my Concerto Grosso No. 1. I find there is a certain tautness and a tragic import implicit in these designs. 3) After the initial measures of triple forte Grave, the speeds of the movements are, simply: fast, moderate, slow. One would hardly expect this to be unique, but I find myself hard pressed to think of other examples, though schemes with emphasis on slow, unquiet denouements can be found in Berg's Lyric Suite, Bartok's 2nd and 6th Quartets, or any of several late Quartets of Shostakovich" 

The Trimble work has a much higher incidence of dissonance than the Rosner. A pupil of Copland, Honegger and Milhaud, he seems to have gone down the road of Copland’s Piano Fantasy. An intriguing piece but decidedly thorny. Irwin Swack was a pupil of Vittorio Giannini (always a promising connection) and he seems to have been drawn to the music of Shostakovich and Bartók. These voices and the deftly astringent lyricism of the Berg Violin Concerto have each infused the horizontal and vertical grid of this music. He is most assuredly of a romantic inclination. 

Each of the three works are performed by a different quartet String Quartet. 

*Annoyingly the three quartets are recorded in single movements (three tracks on the disc) which doesn't effect the listening pleasure really but I never understand such a choice when a disc is being mastered or edited. Thus I will list the movements below:

Arnold Rosner - String Quartet No.1 (1972)
1. Overture
2. Isorhythmic Motet
3. Passacaglia

Lester Trimble - String Quartet No. 1 (1950)
1. Vivace
2. Andante
3. Vivace

Irwin Swack - String Quartet No. 4 (in one movement) (1986-1990)




Anonymous said...

Thanks. My Rosner collection is growing. :) I am listening to Tveitt as I write. Very pleasant music.


cjvinthechair said...

Of all the blogs that I 'trawl' given the chance, yours is now the one I prefer, as we both seem happy to give prominence to lesser known composers/works - to the extent that even though I'm too stupid musically really to appreciate chamber/solo works, I'm going to download this & have a listen.
Maybe old dogs...? OK, probably not, but I'll try !

Tzadik said...

Hi Piterets, exposing people to Rosner is certainly a mission of mine so to speak..really audiences deserve to experience such incredible music :) I meant to post too a disc featuring his "Concerto for Two Trumpets, Timpani and String Orchestra" which is a real knock out but I have misplaced it; I had the disc in front of me last week! So..more Rosner to come. Tz

Tzadik said...

cjvinthechair, nice to hear from you. I do hope you enjoy some of the chamber music, although you might fancy some of the Koechlin chamber music etc. more if you are not fond of string quartets. You sir are not an old dog, but if you insist.. then new tricks are the order of the day! -Tz

sneffels said...

Such fascinating quartets!
And thank you for all the Rosner - a composer who was completely new to me.

Who are the string quartets performing on this disc?

Thanks again!

Tzadik said...

Hello Sneffels you are very welcome, how nice that you are enjoying Rosner's music. I wasn't terribly clear about the Quartets, as I only listed them in the post title. It's the Alorian Quartet, the Ondine Quartet, and the Sierra Quartet.

Toon van Dijk said...

I've search the history of your uploads and I found a lot of interesting posts. It will take some time to download all and even more time hear all.
I send you my regards with best wishes for 2015