REBECCA CLARKE (1886-1979): Adagio (Poem), Comodo e amabile, GERMAINE TAILLEFERRE (1892-1983): String Quartet, AMY BEACH (1867-1944): String Quartet, FLORENTINE MULSANT (b.1962): String Quartet No. 3, Op. 47.
Catalogue Number: 10W045
Description: Mulsant's four-movement quartet is the most substantial work here, tonal, with a certain acerbity to its harmonies and a general mood of melancholy alternating with unsettled agitation. The odd-numbered movements are slow and predominantly sombre, while the second and fourth are lively and assertive, if a little abrasive. The first movement is limned in rich autumnal colors; there is a sense of pathos and resignation, but also of expectancy to the music, which consists of free variations on or around the opening cello theme. The second is kind of scherzo with a trenchant, ticking rhythm; a dance, but a rather uncouth one. The slow movement returns to variations, now on a simple, plaintive theme, austere and unornamented, autumnal and sad, with a greater emphasis on counterpoint and less expressive variety than the opening movement.The finale is earthy and boisterous, with a theme which the composer describes as "punchy". The opening phrase of the first movement is briefly recalled before the final dismissive gesture. Tailleferre's attractive, concise little quartet, with its very Ravelian scherzo and tarantella-finale that has more of a sense of bohemian café-society experimentation à la Les Six than the more conventional previous movements is well worth acquaintance, like all this still-underrated composer's music. Quatuor Sine Qua Non.