THOMAS ADÈS (b.1971): Piano Quintet, The Four Quarters for String Quartet (World Premiere Recording), Arcadiana for String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 05Q085
Description: The Four Quarters suggests the passage of a day, beginning with velvety, chromatic night, followed by the propulsively eruptive 'morning dew' - rhythmically complex pizzicati, clearly the dazzling shards of sunlight reflected from water droplets rather than mellow pastoral moistness. Harmonically rich and full-bodied day is underpinned by a steady pulsation, perhaps the passage of measured time, by contrast with the strange textures and complex compound meter of 'the twenty-fifth hour'; time outside of time, a subjective, metaphysical perception of time. 1994's Arcadiana explores seven vanished idylls, incorporating punning references to 'found' models or idioms - a Venetian gondolier's song, Schubert, Mozart, Couperin, Elgar - and at the center, Poussin's tomb representing death in the midst of Arcadia, a tango muerte. The splendid piano quartet is a large, extended sonata-form structure, in what Adès memorably describes as 'irrationally functional harmony'; a lengthy exposition develops from a brief, memorable motif presented in complex cross-rhythms between the instruments, into a gloriously sensuous pre-atonal Schoenbergian idiom. The material is then developed in strange and intricate metamorphoses before the recapitulation presents a dramatically compressed revisiting of the opening motifs, ending with a sudden return to tonality. Calder Quartet, Thomas Adès (piano).