JULIEN-FRANÇOIS ZBINDEN (b.1917): String Quartets No. 1, Op. 60 and No. 2, Op. 108, Alligun, Op. 69.
Catalogue Number: 02R038
Description: The composer waited until he was in his sixties before essaying the hallowed form, finally acquiescing to a commission from the Rumanian-Swedish violinist Mircea Saulescu for his quartet. The result was a finely wrought, traditional specimen of the genre, tonal and accessible, with an emphatic introductory movement and a lovely slow movement based on a musical cryptogram of Saulescu's name. The finale is a jazzy allegro fugato, with a delicious Gershwinesque blues as a central episode, recalling the composer's early career as jazz pianist. Alligun - the title is an anagram of Saulescu's wife's name, Gunilla - is a miniature in similar form and vocabulary, with a tender berceuse as a slow movement which sounds like a folk song and coincidentally turned out to be very close to an actual Rumanian lullaby. A further three decades elapsed before he attempted a second quartet, which is almost twice its predecessor's size and more ambitious and original, though similarly tonal and approachable. It comprises a rhythmic allegro with a mysterious introduction, a scherzo consisting of lively banter between the instruments, a darkly dramatic slow movement with a funeral march at its heart which gives way to a tender resolution, and an exhilaratingly energetic, intricately contrapuntal finale. Quatuor Sine Nomine.