MICHAEL FINNISSY (b.1946): Clarinetten-Liederkreis for Clarinet and String Quartet, for String Quartet: Civilisation, Contapunctus XIX, Mad Men in the Sand, Six sexy minuets three trios.
Catalogue Number: 11U064
Reference: msv 28581
Description: Finnissy's chamber music often shows aspects of his personality less apparent in the wildly complex piano music with which he has been most commonly associated, and so it is here, not least his wide knowledge of, and reverence for, the music of the past (his quartet writing has little in common with the explorations of other contemporary composers, but it is full of references to Haydn), and his sense of humor. Civilisation, in six movements, contrasts various ideas of 'primitive' or 'rustic' music with 'refined' or 'civilised' - which may be 'classical' or 'romantic' (Haydnesque or Wagnerian) - material. There is a sense of wry examination of the concepts here, as well as some very entertaining and accessible music. This is also true of the minuets and trios, which are almost a Kagel-like piece 'about' what a classical quartet is; most movements involve the players adding percussion parts on household objects of their choosing; tellingly, though, the long final movement is almost 'traditional' quartet music, in a late-romantic, early Schönberg vein. The Clarinet Quintet also seems to be searching for a reconciliation between styles and traditions, in five surprisingly lyrical, light-textured movements (the clarinet's solo movement, to which the other instruments, tacent, seem to be listening intently, perhaps suggests that a return to folk music might be the answer). The Bach 'completion' is an ingeniously knotty contrapuntal thicket, and Mad Men in the Sand is a two-minute divertimento of multitudinous background references (one of them a little surprising!). Kreutzer Quartet, Linda Merrick (clarinet).