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USA - Music Of Nancarrow, Carter, Et Al / Arditti Quartet


Release Date: 08/14/2001 
Label:  Naive   Catalog #: 82139   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Conlon NancarrowElliott CarterCharles IvesJay Alan Yim,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
CD not available: This title is currently only available as an MP3 download.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

What a disc this is! The splendid Arditti Quartet showcases a number of American composers as part of a planned series of 20th century string quartets for Montaigne. It's no accident that Nancarrow, Cage, and Carter--three of the composers most closely associated with this quartet--are featured here. Others include Birtwistle, Gubaidulina, Kurtag, Ligeti, Rihm, Stockhausen, and Xenakis, some of whom are featured in the third volume of the series. (Why the jump in numbering from Vol. 3 to Vol. 15?) For many listeners, the only unknown composer represented here will be Jay Alan Yim, whose Autumn Rhythms (which, at 16 minutes is one of the longest works on this collection) was inspired by Jackson Pollock's painting. That information alone is Read more enough to give a sense of this work's density. The disc's order is a wonder of smart contrasts. The crisp crack of the Alvin Lucier opening is an eye-popping, marvelous contrast to the sostenutos of Morton Feldman's Structures. That sort of play with juxtaposed textures is something of a secondary theme for the album.

As you might expect, the playing is magnificent, though I did miss the assertiveness that cellist Joan Jeanrenaud brought to Ives' Scherzo on the Kronos Quartet's White Man Sleeps recording. (A very minor complaint, considering the piece is a minute and a half long.) An added bonus is the liner notes--in French, English, and German. Rather than mere translations, each language offers different essays; Kyle Gann's notes in English are particularly illuminating, however, I would have liked all the notes to be available in all three languages.

The sound is generally good (though a bit too buzzy and close for my taste), but I take exception to how Structures was recorded. The score is marked "soft as possible"--a directive the players take very seriously--but it also sounds to me as if the engineer potted it way down in an effort to help the cause. (The piece is only audible with the volume set to its maximum level, which makes for a lot of noise.) The same problem plagues John Cage's Four, which here lasts 20 minutes and thus makes for an aggravating listening session. No outside intervention, please! In terms of performances, though: recommended, recommended, recommended.

-- Anastasia Tsioulcas, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 by Conlon Nancarrow
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; Mexico 
2.
Elegy for String Quartet by Elliott Carter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1946; USA 
3.
A Set of Short Pieces (3) by Charles Ives
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1914; USA 
4.
Autumn rhythm by Jay Alan Yim
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
5.
Structures by Morton Feldman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1951; USA 
6.
Fragments by Alvin Lucier
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; USA 
7.
Small Pieces (5) for String Quartet "On Remembering a Naiad" by La Monte Young
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1956; USA 
8.
Four by John Cage
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arditti String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989; USA 

Sound Samples

String Quartet No. 1: I. Allegro molto
String Quartet No. 1: II. Andante moderato
String Quartet No. 1: III. Prestissimo
Elegy (version for string quartet)
Scherzo for String Quartet
Autumn Rhythm
Structures
Fragments
5 Small Pieces for String Quartet, "On Remembering a Naiad": I. A Wisp
5 Small Pieces for String Quartet, "On Remembering a Naiad": II. A Gnarl
5 Small Pieces for String Quartet, "On Remembering a Naiad": III. A Leaf
5 Small Pieces for String Quartet, "On Remembering a Naiad": IV. A Twig
5 Small Pieces for String Quartet, "On Remembering a Naiad": V. A Tooth
Four

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