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Lilburn: String Quartet… / New Zealand String Quartet

Lilburn / New Zealand Str Qrt
Release Date: 02/10/2015 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 573079   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Douglas Lilburn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Writing a string quartet is one of the hardest things there is (you know if you’ve tried it), and after the defining works of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven only a handful of composers have succeeded in producing works of equivalent profundity and originality in the genre. New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn is certainly no Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven (nor Bartók or Shostakovich), but that doesn’t mean his String Quartet in E minor is anything less than a finely crafted work, full of engaging ideas and adroit string writing, worthy of serious attention by anyone who enjoys tonal, tuneful, alternately gritty, lyrical, warmly ingratiating, and dramatically assertive chamber string music. If you need a comparison, it’s Dvorák, Read more definitely not Bartók, but it also reflects a sort of English resonance owing to Lilburn’s study in England with Vaughan Williams at London’s Royal College of Music.

Most of the program consists of works for string duo or trio. The Duos for 2 Violins are only nominally in the tradition of Bartók’s well-known creations; Lilburn’s are far more substantial, credible recital works rather than crafty, clever student exercises. Likewise, the String Trio and Canzonettas for Violin and Viola are sophisticated and consistently engrossing–the first two of the violin and viola pieces were written as incidental music for productions of Shakespeare plays; the string trio is a remarkable effort whose sound and texture and expressive scope makes an impact much larger than its actual physical forces would suggest. And as for the concluding world-premiere recording of the Phantasy for String Quartet–forget the fact that this is a student work: it’s a real gem, a happy, optimistic piece whose Englishness–including fleshy harmonies and smart, soulful melodies–is agreeably out-front, its 10-plus minutes a delightful joining of traditional quartet style and a more personal, Lilburn-esque lyrical freedom.

The New Zealand String Quartet has distinquished itself over many years with performances and recordings not only of the traditional quartet repertoire–including an acclaimed set of Bartók quartets as well as works by Berg and Mendelssohn–but also of works by New Zealand composers, and this superbly performed and sensitively recorded effort is another feather in the cap of this ensemble, which never fails to impress whether in concert (if you ever get the chance to hear them live, don’t hesitate) or on disc (check out the quartet’s excellent recording of Asian music, on Naxos). Highly recommended, for all lovers of the string quartet.

-- David Vernier, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
String Quartet in E minor by Douglas Lilburn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: Modern 
Written: 1946 
Venue:  St Anne's Church, Toronto, Ontario, Cana 
Length: 16 Minutes 33 Secs. 
2.
Duos for 2 violins by Douglas Lilburn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: Modern 
Written: 1956 
Venue:  St Anne's Church, Toronto, Ontario, Cana 
Length: 18 Minutes 2 Secs. 
3.
String Trio by Douglas Lilburn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: Modern 
Written: 1945 
Venue:  St Anne's Church, Toronto, Ontario, Cana 
Length: 16 Minutes 36 Secs. 
4.
Canzonetta for violin & viola No. 1 by Douglas Lilburn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: Modern 
Written: 1942 
Venue:  St Anne's Church, Toronto, Ontario, Cana 
Length: 3 Minutes 15 Secs. 
5.
Phantasy for string quartet by Douglas Lilburn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New Zealand String Quartet
Period: Modern 
Written: 1939 
Venue:  St Anne's Church, Toronto, Ontario, Cana 
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Great Stuff! March 22, 2015 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "If you are interested in some chamber music of exceptional quality from a little known composer, look no further. New Zealand's Douglas Lilburn composed a limited number of chamber pieces for string ensemble, and apparently all of them are contained on this superb new Naxos recording. The String Quartet in E Minor is a relatively short work (17 minutes), but filled with spacious inventiveness and even quirkiness (if there is such a thing), and definitely attractive throughout. Don't let the 1946 composition date throw you off; this is not some post-WW2 exercise in morbid, cataclysmic introspection. It's tonality and upbeat carefree nature effectively take care of any such concerns. The same thing can be said for the rest of the compositions (Duo for 2 Violins, String Trio, Canzonettas for Violin and Viola, and Phantasy for String Quartet). I found this new recording from Naxos to be refreshing, intriguing, and a great listening experience. The New Zealand String Quartet treat this music from their fellow countryman with obvious affection and affinity. As usual, Naxos' engineering team has done a wonderful job, as the sound quality is top notch. In short, chamber music fans will be well rewarded by sampling this fine new Naxos contribution. Recommended." Report Abuse
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