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Maxwell Davies: Naxos Quartets No 9 & 10 / Maggini Quartet

Release Date: 09/30/2008 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8557400   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Peter Maxwell Davies
Performer:  Martin OutramMichal KaznowskiLaurence JacksonDavid Angel,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Maggini String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MAXWELL DAVIES Naxos Quartets: No. 9; No. 10 Maggini Qrt NAXOS 8.557400 (63:54)

What to make of this quirky, often perplexing, but endlessly fascinating composer? No matter how many works one hears by Peter Maxwell Davies, one can never predict what will come next or even necessarily figure out exactly what is happening now. All the braver for Naxos to commission a set of 10 string quartets from the unpredictable master of the Queen’s music, two per year, to be performed live at Wigmore Hall and recorded by Read more the acclaimed Maggini Quartet. I have no idea if the label is profiting from the venture, but this commission has certainly enriched the string quartet literature. Previous issues have been greeted with enthusiasm and occasionally a little bafflement by Alan Swanson (Nos. 7 and 8, 31:1), Jerry Dubins (Nos. 3 and 4, 29: 1), and Paul Ingram (Nos. 1 and 2, 28:4).

This release completes the commission. It also demonstrates the extraordinary range of this series, both in structure and in inspiration. Quartet No. 9 is a six-movement work made up of two closely related quartets, one inside the other. With oblique references to early 1940s popular music, Maxwell Davies reflects on his childhood memories of the World War II bombings of Manchester, more objectively in the framing quartet and with intense emotion in the embedded one. As in many of his works, he organizes the composition using magic squares, carefully constructed matrices of squares of integers, occasionally thought to have mystic significance. Quartet No. 10 is a suite of Scottish dances, heavily distilled, Baroque in structure if most decidedly not in style. I’m not sure what I expected from this last quartet, but I did expect a conclusion. Far from writing a summation to the series, the composer hasn’t even completed the work, leaving it, instead, mid-phrase and unresolved. It could, the composer suggests in his notes, lead back to the beginning of the first quartet or forward to a subsequent one. As I said, Sir Peter always surprises.

The Maggini Quartet has become something of a house string quartet for Naxos. It has produced a uniformly excellent series of recordings of primarily British works including award-winning issues of pieces by Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Bax, Britten, Ireland, Moeran, and Walton. This series of quartets by Maxwell Davies only adds to its enviable reputation as one of the finest, most adventurous quartets playing today. That it performs this often-daunting music with conviction and technical skill goes without saying. It is not music that will be to everyone’s taste, but it is important music, often gripping in its anger and touching in its melancholy. It exists because of a unique commitment by this label to contemporary composition, and is recommendable for that reason alone. Continued acquaintance with these works may not eliminate all the puzzles, but it does consistently reveal new depths. I can honestly say that I not only admire the Naxos Quartets tremendously, but have come to like them as well. I hope there will be more.

FANFARE: Ronald E. Grames
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Works on This Recording

Quartet for Strings no 9 "Naxos" by Peter Maxwell Davies
Performer:  Martin Outram (Viola), Michal Kaznowski (Cello), Laurence Jackson (Violin),
David Angel (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Maggini String Quartet
Written: England 
Length: 36 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Quartet for Strings no 10 "Naxos" by Peter Maxwell Davies
Performer:  Martin Outram (Viola), David Angel (Violin), Michal Kaznowski (Cello),
Lorraine McAslan (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Maggini String Quartet
Written: England 
Length: 25 Minutes 23 Secs. 

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