ROLAND LEISTNER-MAYER (b.1945): String Quartets No. 5, Op. 147, No. 6, Op. 148 “7 Unbrave Bagatelles” and No. 7, Op. 151 “Ariadne Quartet”.

Catalogue Number: 12T052

Label: TYXart

Reference: TXA 17090

Format: CD

Price: $18.98

Description: Leistner-Mayer strives for 'comprehensibility' and a direct emotional connection with the listener, writing music that is tonal and "does not demand prior intellectual knowledge. That was always important for me." as he puts it. The music is arrestingly immediate and expressive, with a traditional approach to melody and harmony, but no lack of originality. A whiff of his Bohemian background is audible in melodic contours and echoes of folk idioms that sometimes recall Smetana or Janáček. The Fifth Quartet observes the traditional four-movement form, and although it has no programmatic associations it has a clear sense of Romantic narrative. The first movement and scherzo are restless, with a pent-up energy which intermittently finds release, while the slow movement seems becalmed and drowsy. The finale is a lively, lightweight dancing conclusion to an altogether satisfying 'classical' structure. The Sixth, "Seven Unbrave Bagatelles" are a counterpart to the composer's "Brave Pieces for Piano" of 2012, which are "about defiance and rebellion against ignorance and insecurity." The quartet pieces are full of angst, uncertainty and the kind of existential questioning beloved of the Romantics, in a modern, tonal vocabulary that ingeniously manages constantly to remind the listener of works with similar æsthetic aims from Romanticism's first time around - Schumann, for instance. The more conventionally structured Seventh traces a meditative 'Ariadne's thread' "through the mad labyrinth of Life”. The calm music of the opening is assailed throughout the work by assertively disruptive distractions - including a hectically dancing scherzo with disconcerting changes of meter. The sombre, melodious slow movement is the heart of the piece, and then the struggle resumes in the rondo-finale. Sojka Quartet.

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