Saturday, October 16, 2004


Composer: Peter Maxwell Davies
Work: Naxos Quartets Nos. 1 and 2
Media: CD
Genre: Contemporary classical
Catalogue Number: 8.557396
Label: Naxos
Released: October 2004

My current listening pleasure is the first release in a projected 5-cd series from Naxos: world premiere recordings of ten new string quartets performed by the superlative Maggini. What a creative idea it was for the high-quality budget label to commission this set.

These pieces are part of Maxwell-Davies' much-publicised turn from major orchestral works and larger scale projects towards the intimacy and challenge of small ensemble writing; congruent in many ways with the atmosphere of his beloved Orkneys.

Up-to-date information on the composer's activities is available through the MaxOpus site. You can also purchase recordings of Max's music by digital downloads and/or CD compilations of your own choice delivered by post.

As Anthony Holden economically observed in, er, The Observer: "Elegant, accessible, full of mood swings, these inventive works begin [Maxwell-Davies's] long journey in a classical Orcadian landscape, via Beethoven, Haydn, Chopin and Scottish dance music, to a powerful interim resolution with echoes of Bartok and Berg."

There are echoes in there (for me at least) of Kodaly's evocative Kreutzer Sonata.

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