DAVID MATTHEWS (b.1943): Complete String Quartets, Vol. 2 - No. 5, Op. 36 and No. 12, Op. 114.
Catalogue Number: 11O080
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0059
Description: The Fifth is a tough, economical three-movement structure played in one continuous span. The influence of Bartók is evident in the work's style, while the composer attributes aspects of the content - harsh, striking contrasts; a certain clarity or austerity - to the landscape of the Greek island of Santorini. The much larger Twelfth is somewhat modelled after Beethoven's Op. 130, a performance of which, with the Grosse Fuge as finale, by the present quartet served as inspiration for the structure of the piece. This quartet is more obviously tonal than the Fifth (not that Matthews ever abandons tonality) with a large prelude and fugue, with a very Beethovenian feel, for a first movement. Four shorter contrasting movements, some adapted from pre-existing works, follow; a humorous tango, a lively Haydnesque minuet, a wistful and elegant serenade, and a noble slow movement in sombre, twilight colors. The finale is prefaced by a piece written as an 80th birthday tribute to Peter Sculthorpe, an early mentor to Matthews. Appropriately enough, the movement proper was written in Australia, and contains an episode of Australian birdsong (there are birdsongs in other movements too, a familiar device of Matthews, shared inter alia with the Tenth Quartet from Vol. 1 of this series) as postlude to a sonata-form structure with fugal elements, energetic and warm-hearted. Kreutzer Quartet.