LEON KIRCHNER (b.1919): String Quartets Nos. 1-4.
Catalogue Number: 07K087
Reference: TROY 1030
Description: Kirchner's quartet's span more than 50 years of his creative life. The first is the most classical in outline, recalling Bartók in its rhythmic incisiveness, and with a strong sense of tonal centers despite obvious acknowledgements of the theories of Kirchner's revered teacher, Schoenberg. The second is more straightforward in texture, direct and eloquent, with intense, lyrical passages recalling Shostakovich. As in the first, the rhythmic vitality of the fast movements is remarkable. The third, from 1966, incorporates electronic sounds in a tape part in dialogue with the strings; highly effective as a kind of reverberant percussion, occasionally showing their age in 'space-age' bleeps and squeaks, but always perfectly in balance with the instruments and essential in developing the argument (which becomes quite heated in a 'tape cadenza' late in the piece). The recent, succinct 4th brings the cycle full circle with a fresh and vital return to an early-Schoenberg vocabulary of a century ago, rendered as energized and new-sounding as it was before the innovations explored in the earlier quartets were even thought of. Orion String Quartet.