ANDREW ANDERSON (b.1971): Piano Quartets No. 1 in C Minor and No. 2.
Catalogue Number: 08V064
Label: Navona Records
Description: Anderson, an Australian, appears to be another of those composers who excel at putting a great deal of skill and technique into writing music that, entirely without irony, pretends that most of the past century-plus of music history never happened. In Anderson's case he has produced works with a strong degree of individuality, and draws from the styles of a wide enough period that the listener is never deceived into believing that this is actually the music of an unknown 19th century Romantic. The first quartet is in traditional four-movement form, lasting around 35 minutes. The first movement is in sonata form, very Classical-Romantic in style and thematically memorable. The second seems to have its roots planted more recently in the history of Romanticism; it starts as a serious, chromatic and contrapuntal slow movement, but rises to an unexpectedly powerful and passionate climax before returning to an ethereal retelling of the earlier material. The following scherzo is fleet and lively, with a lullaby-like trio. The finale surges forward determinedly, working out in sonata form themes with classical elegance and romantic passion, evoking comparisons with Tchaikovsky's great piano trio, even down to a fugal section, some thematic similarities and a final monumental peroration. The second quartet is laid out in two sections, each comprising subdivisions of varying character. The piece is more 'modern' - meaning that the elegiac first section could easily be by a British composer of the first half of the 20th century; one with a taste for pastoral melancholy and not much time for the newfangled developments taking place on the continent. Music history aside, though, the actual music is gloriously rich and atmospheric. Part two begins with a section of ecclesiastical solemnity and introspection. The central part of the movement is driven, dark, and agitated, leading to a more conventional allegro finale, which reaches a climax, wistfully recalls earlier material and ends with an energetic flourish. Australia Piano Quartet.