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Hill: String Quartets Vol 2 / Dominion String Quartet

Release Date: 10/28/2008 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8572097   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Alfred Hill
Performer:  Yury GezentsveyDavid ChickeringRosemary HarrisDonald Maurice,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dominion Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 5 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

A. HILL String Quartets: No. 4; No. 6, “The Kids”; No. 8 Dominion Qrt NAXOS 8.572097 (64: 52)

New Zealander Alfred Hill (1869–1960) has become fairly well known, as neglected composers go, thanks to the success of the previous volume in this Dominion series, which covered the first three of his 17 quartets (welcomed by Colin Anderson in 31:2). As a young player in the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Hill worked with many of the great composers and Read more conductors of the day, and then returned south for a long Antipodean career, most of it in Australia. He was a distinguished academic, and wrote around 500 works. Quartet movements were often rearranged to go into his symphonies, and they also show up in other chamber disguises. But he was a real quartet composer, and if these works are any guide, Hill had the singular virtue of knowing when to stop, so his movements rarely drag. His tunes are good, and plentiful. They are better than the melodies shaped by some of Hill’s supposed models, and he clearly would not write a movement, unless there were some strong themes and textures ready to go into it. The form serves the content, bucking the mid-century trend. Hill’s music, on this showing, is always pleasant to listen to. It starts out like a solid take on the European nationalists, then (already by the time of this Eighth Quartet) grows harmonic tendrils in the manner of Elgar, Delius, Bax, and the earlier Bridge.

What this means, historically, is that by 1934 (the date of the Eighth), Hill’s work had begun to catch late, reflected echoes of the Debussy Quartet (1893), though you can also hear some Debussy in the Fourth Quartet (1916), as well as some Haydnesque moods all through. One movement here is based on a theme from a very well known Classical masterpiece (try the Scherzo of the Sixth Quartet, all of which has fun with Classical models). But towering over Hill’s other models, shading even the Grieg influence, is the Dvo?ák “American” Quartet. If you don’t like that work, then avoid this Naxos release. You’ll be missing some calm enjoyment, though, if you do. Hill’s individuality shines through (the Fourth in C Minor is a strong piece on its own terms, with a feisty Rondo finale), and the CD has a very positive feel. Playing, recording, and some modest music, entirely idiomatic in the writing for strings, come together to brighten your day.

FANFARE: Paul Ingram
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 4 in C minor by Alfred Hill
Performer:  Yury Gezentsvey (Violin), David Chickering (Cello), Rosemary Harris (Violin),
Donald Maurice (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dominion Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 07/25/1916; Neutral Bay, Sydney, 
Length: 24 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 6 in G major "The Kids" by Alfred Hill
Performer:  David Pucher (Violin), Donald Maurice (Viola), David Chickering (Cello),
Yury Gezentsvey (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dominion Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 09/1927; Australia 
Length: 14 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 8 in A major by Alfred Hill
Performer:  Donald Maurice (Viola), Rosemary Harris (Violin), David Chickering (Cello),
Yury Gezentsvey (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dominion Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 12/06/1934; Australia 
Length: 24 Minutes 55 Secs. 

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