ROBERT SAXTON (b.1953): Songs, Dances and Ellipses, JOHN CASKEN (b.1949): String Quartet No. 2, JUDITH WEIR (b.1954): String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 03K088
Description: Casken's is a full-blooded, vital work with irresistible forward momentum form its opening through the 'jazzy' second movement and the 'playful' finale. The slow movement, muted and melancholy, provides an abrupt timbral contrast. There is a sense of adherence to the quartet tradition in the close ensemble writing and meticulous control of structure. Weir's is far more spare of texture, atmospheric and impressionistic , though with a decidedly chilly northern atmosphere about it. Like the other works here, the vocabulary is fundamentally based on tonality, whatever dissonant departures from it seem to be implied by the counterpoint of the part-writing (this is ingeniously made manifest at the very end of Saxton's quartet). The 'ellipses' of the title suggest something of the overall structure of the work, which also draws on the 17th-century viol tradition in the layout of parts and the texture of some of the material. Kreutzer Quartet.