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Creative Tensions

A double CD from
The Fry Street Quartet -
reviewed by

'... excellent by any standards ...'

Beethoven - Stravinsky - Rorem - Scearce - The Fry Street Quartet. © 2004 The Fry Street Quartet

This double-CD set employs 'the voices of modernism' as its linking theme. It divides neatly into one disc of Beethoven and one of assorted twentieth century works. Since the Beethoven quartets are widely known I will begin with the second disc.

Stravinsky is represented by three miniatures from 1914, between The Rite of Spring and The Soldier's Tale. Putting it that way shows how radically his style was changing at the time: they were indeed transitional and experimental. In fact, they represent three quite different post-Rite directions -- neo-primitivism, continuing most directly from the Rite; brittle eccentricity, perhaps on the way to The Soldier's Tale; and austere classicism, looking far ahead to the period of Apollon Musagetes. The Three Pieces for String Quartet really are three (separate) pieces, but with a total length of just six and a half minutes they are fated always to be presented as one work.

Stravinsky seems to me to be continually under-rated, and for the same reason as Picasso: both had such incredibly long and various creative lives that they are too big to see whole. Each of these pieces, merest trifles in the context of his output, is a fully achieved, individual work [listen -- CD 2 track 1, 0:03-0:50].

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Copyright © 19 February 2006 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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