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Cat. No. CHAN 10182 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10182 - McEwen: String Quartets, Vol. 3
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Available From: 08 March 2004
McEwen’s nineteen string quartets provide the core of his compositional output, from the trailblazing works such as Quartets Nos 2 and 4, to the distilled style of his last, No. 17.

Written in 1898 and published in 1903, the Quartet No. 2 in A minor received its first performance at a private concert by the Wessely Quartet in London in 1900. Gilbert Webb of The Standard spoke with high praise of this ‘interesting and scholarly composition’ in which he recognised those themes ‘possessing character expressed in Scottish musical idiom and treated with pronounced skill’.

‘A Little Quartet’ in modo scotico was composed in Cannes in 1936. It is remarkable for its extraordinary, effervescent finale which has the cello playing snappy reels and accompaniments. In the final pages the music is driven almost to breaking point. The extreme vivacity and amazing challenges posed both rhythmically and melodically were probably the reason that there appears to have been no public performance of this work during McEwen’s lifetime.

Quartet No. 8 in E flat major is a very compact and experimental work, written in 1918 and first performed in London by the Virtuoso Quartet nine years later. It contains a wistful opening movement with a chromatic progression of harmonies. Its gently yodelling finale unexpectedly develops into music of real scherzo character – scurrying soft triplets with sharp accents are reminiscent of French music of this era.
Reviews

The third instalment of the Chilingirian Quartets survey of the voluminous quartet output of JB McEwen confirms the impressions generated by Vols 1 and 2 - the Scottish head of the Royal Academy of Music was in no sense an academic composer but a sensitive, inventive and quietly innovative master of his genre.
BBC Music Magazine

CHAN 10182 follows two other McEwen quartet discs by the excellent Chilingirian Quartet: they sink themselves into McEwens idiom the way others might sink themselves into a foam-filled bath. And with equally pleasurable results.
Telegraph

From the French flavours of No. 8 to the Scottish stylings of No. 15, this is interwar British music at its very best: breathing native tradition but fully aware of Continental developments' beautifully played by the Chilingirians.
Independent

Inquisitive collectors can rest assured that these are tidy, beautifully shaped performances, immaculately recorded at Snape Maltings. A delightful release in every way
Gramophone

From the French flavours of No. 8 to the Scottish stylings of No. 15, this is interwar British music at its very best: breathing native tradition but fully aware of Continental developments' beautifully played by the Chilingirians.
Independent

'The Chilingirians perform with great polish and symphathy. The Chandos recording is bright and clean. Good notes help make this an attractive issue for anyone who is willing to venture off the beaten track.'
American Record Guide

'The series is a credit to Chandos.'
The Strad

 

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