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Glass: Complete String Quartets / The Smith Quartet


Release Date: 04/29/2008 
Label:  Signum U.k.   Catalog #: 117   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Philip Glass
Performer:  Nic PendleburyDarragh MorganIan HumphriesDeirdre Cooper
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smith String Quartet
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 29 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

The players have lived and breathed this music – the results are stunning.

The success of Philip Glass outstripped the first flush of celebrity in the 1980s and 1990s. This logical set serves further to consolidate his reputation in a world in which no single style has monopoly or ascendancy.

The Third Quartet owes its existence to a commission for the music for Paul Schrader's film of the life of Yukio Mishima. Mishima’s samurai life and death by seppuku made him almost as much of an iconic figure in the 1960s as Che Guevara. The music moves between a lulling iterative murmur (II) and a sense of rise and uplift (IV). The finale (V) is almost Schubertian or may remind you of a fragment from Smetana’s
Read more bustling Aus Meinem Leben. I have heard Company in two other different orchestral version recordings recently: the Naxos Glass set and the EMI ‘American Classics’ disc. The first and third movements are suggestive of a melancholic slowed fanfare. The third is chaffingly Sibelian. The finale is shot through with urgently propulsive power; angst and exhilaration meet and mediate. The early death of the artist Brian Buczak from HIV/AIDS was the spur for the Fourth Quartet. It is one of the longer quartets and has only three movements. It's a work of more complexity than its mates on CD1. There is a great tenderness here and the slow-rocking and piercing poignancy of the second movement is memorable. In the finale it is as if the lock-gates have been raised to release a surge of Schubertian melody.

The First Quartet is from the mid-1960s; pretty early for Glass. It dates from shortly after he had completed his not entirely comfortable studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger and Pierre Boulez. The work has some of his trademark iterative cell-patterning but the world he creates is more involved, varied, troubled and dissonant. The Fifth Quartet - so far his last - is contemporary romantic. Its second movement is launched with a typical sombre ostinato but other figures of passionate and sanguine weight are interleaved. Passion too drives the third movement which is thrillingly empowered. The fourth carries reminiscences, in Schubertian cotton wool, of those unhurried fanfares of Company. In a flighty finale high-pitched bustle and wonderfully inventive optimistic writing lead to a triumphantly winged episode. There's just a hint of Tippett at full throttle in this music which at the close moves into tender reflection.

As with the other performances you feel that the Smith Quartet have lived and breathed this music.

The set is well presented and the whole effect is very pleasing prompting curiosity about the other Signum/Smith collaborations - Different Trains (Reich) SIGCD 064 and Ghost Stories SIGCD 088.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb Internationl
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 by Philip Glass
Performer:  Nic Pendlebury (Viola), Darragh Morgan (Violin), Ian Humphries (Violin),
Deirdre Cooper (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smith String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1966; USA 
Length: 8 Minutes 48 Secs. 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 2 "Company" by Philip Glass
Performer:  Nic Pendlebury (Viola), Deirdre Cooper (Cello), Ian Humphries (Violin),
Darragh Morgan (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smith String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1983; USA 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 3 "Mishima" by Philip Glass
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1985; USA 
Length: 4 Minutes 8 Secs. 
4.
Quartet for Strings no 4 "Buczak" by Philip Glass
Performer:  Nic Pendlebury (Viola), Darragh Morgan (Violin), Ian Humphries (Violin),
Deirdre Cooper (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smith String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990; USA 
Length: 7 Minutes 30 Secs. 
5.
Quartet for Strings no 5 by Philip Glass
Performer:  Nic Pendlebury (Viola), Darragh Morgan (Violin), Ian Humphries (Violin),
Deirdre Cooper (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Smith String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1991; USA 
Length: 1 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 New horizons in music December 21, 2013 By C. De Leon (HATILLO, PR) See All My Reviews "As to tastes and colors no one can argue because each person has his own preferences. I heard about Philip Glass in a British documentary about the music of the Beatles, which I like very much. I heard a short interpretation of one of his quartets, the 5th I believe and I like the music. I am not a musicologist but I took an elective course in musical appreciation while I was an engineering student many moons ago, and i was introduced to classical music and I fell in love with most of the music of the classical composers. I have all the Vivaldi music available in CD's, most of J. S. Bach's, Tchaikovsky, Mozart and others. I love baroque music. On the music of Philip Glass i just purchased from Arkiv the Essential Philip Glass and it is a new experience for me, but his music is attractive to my musical interest. This CD of his Quartets is an excellent audio recording and the music is also excellent." Report Abuse
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