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Van Delden: Complete String Quartets / Urtecht Quartet

Release Date: 04/24/2007 
Label:  Md&g (Dabringhaus & Grimm)   Catalog #: 6031436   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Lex van Delden
Performer:  Quirijn van Regteren Altena
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utrecht String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Vivid, vigorous and accessible music, stunningly played and recorded with faithful immediacy.

Werner Dabringhaus and Reimund Grimm continue to redefine excellence of artistry and technology with their MDG label. In this case they return to the music of Dutch composer Lex van Delden who was born in Amsterdam as Alexander Zwaap.

A pupil of pianist, Cor de Groot, van Delden was largely an autodidact so far as composition was concerned. He was an associate of another leading composer of the inter-war years Sem Dresden best known for his orchestral piece Dansflitsen from 1952. In 1942 van Delden as a Jew was in hiding from the occupying Nazis. Still a student, he joined the Underground. It was wise to use
Read more another name and the name Lex van Delden is derived from that assumed name. At the end of the War he discovered that most of his family and friends had been killed by the Nazis. Most of his pre-war compositions were destroyed in the bombing of Nijmegen in 1944. His approximately 125 surviving works, including eight symphonies, were written after the war.

The works recorded here are for string quartet or quartet plus one. They are the work of a traditionalist – melodic seasoned with a slightly peppery harmony. Every lines is laid out with wondrous clarity. The language resembles Tippett without the polyphonic complexity. As the years passed Van Delden drew withering fire from the avant-garde orthodoxy not that this dissuaded him from the tonal route.

The Musica di Catasto was commissioned for the 150th anniversary of the Land Registry in the Netherlands. The first movement with a radiant classical warmth has a quite recognisable hint of the famous 1812 theme. Overall the music is dark-hued but the bureaucratic commission did nothing to stifle van Delden’s dignified and gracious tunefulness.

The earliest piece is the four movement String Quartet I which, across four concentrated movements, is in keeping with the desperation and deep depression that permeated his life at the time. The music moves between the poles of Ravel and Bartók. The String Quartet II is an arrangement of the composer’s Symphony No. 7 for strings. This three movement work has a hesitant flickering grace in the first movement which contrasts with the burnished tension of the third movement finale complete with passing echoes of the string writing in Sibelius 4. The Third Quartet was commissioned by a wealthy artlover and collector of the paintings of Carel Willink (1900-1983). The paintings that inspired each of the four movements are most superbly reproduced in the centre of the booklet. The music is glowingly urgent in the outside movements and in the central pair incisive and then sweetly tender in the manner of Tippett’s Concerto for Double String Orchestra. The finale takes us back into that sincere lyricism so typical of the middle movement of the Tippett Triple Concerto.

This disc is partner to another van Delden CD from MDG: Quartetto op. 58 (1957) for flute, violin, viola and violoncello; Sestetto per Archi op. 97 (1971) for 2 violins, 2 violas and 2 violoncellos; Duo per Flauto ed Arpa op. 27 (1950) for flute and harp; Introduzione e Danza (Judith) op. 26 (1950) for flute, clarinet, violin, viola, violoncello and piano and the Nonetto per Amsterdam op. 101 (1975) for clarinet, bassoon, horn, 2 violins, viola, violoncello, double-bass and piano. The Viotta Ensemble and members of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra can be heard on MDG 603 1317-2 (see review).

Vivid, vigorous and accessible music, stunningly played and recorded with faithful immediacy.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 3, Op. 106 "Willink Tetraptych" by Lex van Delden
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utrecht String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1979 
Quartet for Strings no 2, Op. 86 by Lex van Delden
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utrecht String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965 
Quartet for Strings no 1, Op. 43 by Lex van Delden
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utrecht String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954 
Intrada and Passacaglia, Op. 108 "Musica di Catasto" by Lex van Delden
Performer:  Quirijn van Regteren Altena (Double bass)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utrecht String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A Rewarding Challenge June 10, 2018 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "Holland's superb Utrecht String Quartet is really in its element on this MD+G disk, with a program of modern Dutch chamber music by Lex Van Delden. The composer was a Dutch Jew who went through the trauma of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, with the CD notes stating that he lost much of his family. Van Delden's string quartets appear to reflect much of this tragic life experience, coupled with the search for musical direction in the post-WW2 era as the Cold War evolved. Van Delden's compositional style is most definitely not ultra-avantgarde, yet a 'modern' ambience is clearly in evidence. His 3 string quartets are presented in reverse order, leading off with String Quartet # 3 from 1979. This work is based around four paintings by Dutch painter Carel Willink. I found this work to be intriguingly enigmatic, with its solemn, wistful character raising more questions than it answers. String Quartet # 2(1965) is actually an arrangement of Van Delden's 8th symphony. A 3 movement work, the string quartet is filled with jittery, unstable passages that challenge the listener with an ambiguous musical message, which I hasten to add is really interesting material. String Quartet # 1 dates from 1964 and appears to set the stage for the intricacies of the subsequent quartets. Overlaid with a sense of unease and even apprehension, the quartet is finely crafted and displays remarkable coherence, despite its abstract nature. Finally, the program concludes with a short work for string quintet (with the addition of a double bass). Dating from 1981, this work harkens back to the seriousness, even sadness, of the quartets, but it is a noticeably more conventional piece of music. In short, the Utrecht String Quartet's masterly performance of this accessible but challenging music will surely reward the serious chamber music lover. Give it a try and see what I mean!" Report Abuse
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