<< -- 3 -- Roderic Dunnett HOLSTIAN TIME-WARP
A competent Scherzo follows, but the very long (ten minute) finale, whose curious feeling of a kind of Holstian time-warp harks back in serener form to the mood of the Adagio, is of greater interest, pairing the lower instruments, rocking cello and viola, to especially good effect. A strange, almost sci-fi journey, which would make superb film music yet has none of the hack stitched-together feel commonly associated with that genre.
The Seventh Quartet was composed in New York just after the war (whereas Nos 4 and 5 were composed in Paris in the late 1930s, before Martinu made his hasty escape, in the nick of time, to America). It sounds to me like Martinu harking back to Beethoven : both in the initially cheerful first movement, which gives way to an impassioned prayer (again I'm not sure here about the quartet's lackadaisical attitude to rhythm -- one feels the four are just about together, but only just), and in the ensuing Andante, which takes the idea of prayer properly on board and gives full vent to the mood of Beethoven's A minor, arguably more successfully than the slightly more predictable reflections of the preceding Allegro. The finale, chock-full of thrown rhythms, is a bit cavalier too, but serves as a cheerful envoi to the whole series of seven.
Copyright © 30 March 2003
Roderic Dunnett, Budapest, Hungary
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Martinu: String Quartets Nos 4, 5 and 7
8.553784 DDD Stereo 71'09" 2002 HNH International Ltd
Martinu Quartet: Lubomír Havlák, violin, Petr Macecek, violin, Jan Jísa, viola, Jitka Vlasánková, cello
Bohuslav Martinu: String Quartet No 4 (1937); String Quartet No 5 (1938); String Quartet No 7 'Concerto de Camera' (1947)