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Rawsthorne: Four String Quartets / Flesch Quartet


Release Date: 03/18/1997 
Label:  Asv   Catalog #: 983   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Alan Rawsthorne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flesch String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

These are highly committed, eloquent and consistently purposeful performances from the Flesch Quartet.

At Dartington Hall, in June 1933, the Griller Quartet performed a string quartet by a promising young pianist, teacher and part-time composer by the name of Alan Rawsthorne. The following year, Rawsthorne revised the piece for a private reading by the McNaghton Quartet in the presence of critic Eric Blom, but he remained dissatisfied and promptly embarked on an entirely new essay in the medium which was finished by January 1935 (that same year, Rawsthorne decided to devote himself to composition full-time). This unpublished work receives its first recording here and a very pleasing discovery it proves to be, for its
Read more four movements already display the superior finish, tangy harmonic sense and clear-headed logic one immediately associates with this underrated figure.

Rawsthorne’s First Quartet proper dates from 1939. Cast in one movement, it comprises a theme and six variations, and Rawsthorne’s resourceful inspiration inevitably calls to mind the sheer inventiveness and impeccable craft of his own exhilarating Symphonic Studies (completed the previous year). As it happens, the fourth (and last) movement of the Second Quartet also uses variation form. Premiered by the Griller Quartet at the 1954 Cheltenham Festival, it’s another high quality offering, which demands and well repays close concentration and study: here is music of considerable substance, rigour and fastidious refinement. Like its predecessor, the Third Quartet (written in 1965 for the Alberni Quartet and subsequently recorded by them along with Nos. 1 and 2, Argo, 11/66 – nla) is meaty, formally elegant and contains not one wasted note or gesture. It is also the most searching of the three quartets: I sense a definite stylistic and emotional kinship between its touching slow movement (marked alla ciaccona) and the noble Sarabande of Rawsthorne’s extremely fine Third Symphony of 1964.

These are highly committed, eloquent and consistently purposeful performances from the Flesch Quartet. The rather close, occasionally wiry sound is a bit disconcerting at first, but turn down the volume just a touch and the ear soon adjusts. Very strongly recommended.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone [7/1997]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 "Theme and Variations" by Alan Rawsthorne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flesch String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1939; England 
2.
Quartet for Strings no 2 by Alan Rawsthorne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flesch String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954; England 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 3 by Alan Rawsthorne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flesch String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1965; England 
4.
Quartet for Strings by Alan Rawsthorne
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Flesch String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; England 

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