GERARD SCHURMANN (b.1924): Chamber Music, Vol. 3 - Piano Quartets Nos. 1 and 2, Two Violins, Serenade for Solo Violin.
Catalogue Number: 08T055
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0336
Description: A third, very welcome, volume of Schurmann's fine chamber music. Although he flirted with serialism he also had a distinguished background in film scoring, which may account for the ease with which he adapts sophisticated technical means to highly expressive ends, with a strong sense of tonal harmony. A good case in point is the First Piano Quartet, dedicated to his friend, the great musicologist-philosopher Hans Keller, who died while the work was being written. The first movement, with its taut, canonic argument, mirrors Keller's penetrating thinking and writing; the vehement 'capriccio', propelled headlong by an ostinato like the finale of Prokofiev's 7th sonata, is a furious protest at his passing, and the finale is a strained elegy. The Second Piano Quartet is altogether warmer and more optimistic, with a main theme that reminds us that the composer had a partly British heritage. This is very thoroughly worked out with Schurmann's customary skill. The middle movement combines scurrying scherzo and chorale-like slow movement, and the finale is fugal, robust and energetic. The recent Two Violins explores the counterpoint of equal voices, while the early Serenade, in a somewhat more acerbic idiom, is a set of demanding studies in various violin techniques. Lyris Quartet, Mikhail Korzhev (piano), Martin Beaver (second violin).