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The String Quartet

sun 23 apr 2023 12:00 hour

Presented by Leo Samama.


Michael Tippett (1905-1998) – String Quartet No.1 (1935, rev 1943)
Allegro passionnato, 2. Lento cantabile, 3. Allegro assai
Performers: Heath Quartet
CD: Wigmore Hall Live


Lennox Berkeley (1903-1989) – String Quartet No.1, Op.6 (1935)
Allegro – Moderato, 2. Andante non troppo – Lento, 3. Scherzo: Vivace, 4. Theme and 6 variations: Moderato
Performers: Maggini Quartet
CD: Naxos


Elizabeth Maconchy (1907-1994) – String Quartet No.3 (1938)
Lento-Presto-Andante-Presto-Poco Largamente
Performers: Hanson String Quartet
CD: Unicorne / Treasure Island Records


Between 1930 and 1975, Benjamin Britten and Michael Tippett were undoubtedly two of the most important composers of their generation, with William Walton as the ‘third in the group’. When we compare the first three string quartets of Tippett (1935, rev.1943), Britten (1941), and Walton (1946), it becomes clear that tradition played an important role for each of them. Walton held on to traditional forms and sounds, Britten transformed the old into something new without obliterating the characteristics of old music, while Tippett boldly painted over the old.

Today, we are listening to Tippett’s first quartet in combination with the first quartets of Lennox Berkeley and Elizabeth Maconchy. Tippett referred to late Beethoven, while Berkeley preferred a more romantic-classical style with a touch of French and a “hint” of Bartók. Maconchy wrote her third string quartet for the famous New Hungarian Quartet, but the sound of her work is extremely melodious and narrative, typically British.

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