MATTHEW QUAYLE (b.1976): String Quartets No. 1, No. 2 “Sweet Insanity” and No. 3.
Catalogue Number: 12U067
Description: Quayle has an attractive, approachable idiom, very firmly based in tonality, with references to a wide range of genres and styles. As is often the case when composers write for the string quartet, these works have an intimacy and personal reflectiveness that nake them especially compelling. The traditionally structured First Quartet is particularly introspective; the first movement, which may be performed separately, suggests a young man looking back on the idylls of youth, recently disrupted by loss. The remaining three movements seem to comment on this from different perspectives; the scherzo frantically parties; the slow movement mourns, at one point breaking into cries of anguish; and the finale faces the uncertainties of the future with robust determination. The Second Quartet is a mischievous blend of serious tonal lyricism, somewhat Shostakovichian, and disruptive, spiky atonality (sort of), with a dash of Blues thrown in for good measure. Its existential angst is satirical and nose-thumbing rather than earnest and confessional like the First. The Third, much more recent, comprises 13 short movements amounting to a kind of cubist self-portrait with different and contradictory facets of the composer's personality simultaneously on display. As Quayle says: "A sentimental opening movement is suddenly interrupted by a series of tragic declamatory chords, followed by (among other things) an emphatic Bach quotation, a rambling neo-Baroque viola solo, a rock theme ... a searching intermezzo, a poignant waltz in the minor mode, a mischievous scherzo with a twelve-tone theme ... a sincere hymn-like chorale, a banal tune resembling a 1960s sitcom theme [and] a rollicking but dissonant bluegrass groove." Avalon String Quartet.