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Maxwell Davies: Naxos Quartets Nos. 3 & 4

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Audio CD, April 19, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Peter Maxwell Davies is universally acknowledged as one of the foremost composers of our time, and is currently Master of the Queen' Music. Plainchant, musical tradition and the haunting landscape of his adopted Orkney Islands all serve as inspiration to
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Product Details

  • Performer: Maggini Quartet
  • Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
  • Audio CD (April 19, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0007RUTBG
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #706,465 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Albrecht Moritz on May 25, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
These string quartets are in my view among the most engaging music in the genre, and I have been drawn back to them repeatedly over the last few years. The music freely moves between more consonant and more dissonant textures, and between tonal and atonal elements. It sounds modern yet not 'avantgarde'. The polyphonic writing is consistently attractive. The music features an impressive timbral palette, supported by a sophisticated harmonic fabric, which is achieved without employment of 'extended' techniques. Transformations within the music are extensive, as often in the composer's works that unfold on the larger structural scale, and lend the musical narrative an open-ended character that is captivating.

The third Naxos quartet is written in four movements, lasting about half an hour. First movement: The principal melodic gesture, introduced in the first violin, is swiftly transformed away from its initial shape. Somehow fragments of the melodic roots always appear recognizable, yet mostly just as subtle hints. Rather than undergoing common 'variations', the melodic gesture resurfaces time and again as a series of fleeting allusions, wandering about in all instruments and registers. The finesse of the compositional proceedings is quite spectacular. Matching the fragmented presentation of melodic gesture is an increasing distortion of the musical flow, which "gradually transforms the material into a military march of a fatuous and splintered nature" (the composer, from the CD booklet); the invasion of Iraq affected the composition of the quartet (March and April 2003). This dissolves into slow, desolate music. Eventually, after an 'outcry', featuring an intense variation of the principal melodic gesture, the movement subsides.

The second movement is slow.
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