DAVID MATTHEWS (b.1943): Complete String Quartets, Vol. 1 - No. 4, Op. 27, No. 6, Op. 56 & No. 10, Op. 84, Adagio, Op. 56a.
Catalogue Number: 06L107
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0058
Description: Like Robert Simpson before him, Matthews is a significant symphonist using traditional classical forms in his own way, so it's no surprise that he takes a similar approach to the string quartet. Beethoven has been a major influence on Matthews' quartet writing, and this is apparent in the Fourth, a thoroughly tonal four-movement work with a tensely dramatic first movement, a lively and good-humoured scherzo with two trios, a gently songlike slow movement and a vigorous allegro finale. The slow movement of the Sixth is an elaborated version of the Adagio, written in memory of a friend; both versions are anguished and grieving, and something of this mood is also present in the quartet's outer movements, both in sonata form. The Tenth reflects the composer's love of nature, with extended melodies based on bird songs encountered on his travels. These are chosen for their lyrical qualities and treated as such, conjuring evocative landscape-painting reminiscent of Sculthorpe (perhaps not coincidentally, an early mentor), and very different from Messiaen's treatment of birdsong. Kreutzer Quartet.