Matthews: String Quartets Nos 5 & 12 – review

  
  

Toccata Classics has already released one disc devoted to David Matthews's string quartets, on which the Kreutzer Quartet played the fourth, sixth and 10th. Now they add the fifth, dating from 1984, and the most recent to date, the 12th, which they premiered in February last year. Separated by more than 25 years, both works are finely crafted but differ radically in scale and formal plan – the Fifth Quartet is made up of three movements telescoped into a single 17-minute span, while the 12th, modelled on Beethoven's Op 130, lasts over 40 minutes and consists of a pair of substantial outer movements bracketing a series of much shorter ones, linked by cadenzas. Musically they are sharply contrasted too. The level of dissonance in the Fifth is much higher (Matthews mentions Schoenberg's First Quartet and Berg's Lyric Suite as important influences), while the much more straightforward tonal scheme of the 12th includes a tango, a serenade and a minuet, while throwing snatches of birdsong as well as a fugue into the mix of the finale. I'm not sure it all hangs together, but the Kreutzer's performance suggests that they certainly find it convincing.

 

Leave a Comment

Required fields are marked *

*