NORBERT PALEJ (b.1977): String Quartets No. 1 “De Profundis” and No. 2 with Soprano “Four Quartets”, KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI (b.1933): String Quartet No. 3 “Leaves of an Unknown Diary”.
Catalogue Number: 12S073
Label: Marquis Classics
Reference: MAR 81473
Description: Palej denies any specific programmatic content in his quartets, the first referring to Wilde's De Profundis, the second to Eliot's Four Quartets, but it is hard for the listener not to make associations with some kind of powerful poetic imagery in these expressive, emotionally charged works. The idiom is broadly that of the mid-twentieth century mainstream, firmly based in tonality and with a neo-romantic sense of harmony and melody. The First Quartet's predominantly dark-toned textures and the recurrence of tolling, descending motifs and obsessive, mournful fragments of melody certainly could have something to do with Reading gaol, but these are counterbalanced by pastoral episodes and suggestions of the serenity of early music. The second quartet is lighter in texture, and here the repeating gestures could suggest birdsong (in the abstract) or the flow of rivers; there is a sense of landscape and layers of history suggested by the references to musical styles from folk and early music to twentieth century romanticism, reflecting the constant stream of evocative references in Eliot's poetry. Penderecki's 3rd Quartet is from 2008, firmly in his neo-romantic phase, based in tonality and with a great deal of indebtedness to Shostakovich alongside some striking instrumental textures that unmistakably identify the composer while stopping far short of the graphically notated sonorism of his earlier style. Leslie Fagan (soprano), Penderecki String Quartet.