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The youngest composer on the disc is Mark Scearce (born 1960). His String Quartet 1 (Y2K) is almost as long as the Rorem but far more conventional in layout. The four movement pattern goes right back to the eighteenth century; the third movement, the 'scherzo', even has contrasting episodes which serve as 'trios'.

The composer himself acknowledges that the work reflects his uncertainties in tackling the medium for the first time, as well as the community's uncertainties as the end of the millennium approached. In that context, the first two movements reflect those doubts, the third begins to find a way forward and the last has found it [listen -- CD2 track 17, 5:48-6:52]. Scearce may come to regret his 'Y2K' subtitle, which already looks dated, but the work itself is a brave and ultimately successful attempt to resolve creative tensions.

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Copyright © 19 February 2006 Malcolm Tattersall, Townsville, Australia


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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller