CHRISTOPHER ROUSE (b.1949): String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, Compline for Flute, Clarinet, Harp and String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 11L091
Label: Koch International Classics
Description: Rouse's First is an hommage to Bartók, and makes use of a number of Bartókian gestures in a work that is mostly strident and aggressive, motorically propulsive and more concerned with rhythmic incisiveness than melodic content. Extended passages of repeated fortissimo chords generate a high level of visceral excitement, certainly. A surprising elegiac epilogue in memory of Egyptian leader Anwar el-Sadat, assassinated the year before the quartet was completed, introduces a Shostakovich-like atmosphere. This is taken much further in the Second, from a few years later, following a visit by the composer to the Soviet Union. The work is tragic in tone, and based on the intervals of Shostakovich's DSCH motif. Compline, a much more recent piece (1996) is a kind of musical portrait of Rome, contrasting the bustling streets with the grandeur and history of the city and the Church. Repeating gestures produce a lively quasi-minimalistic effect, lighter in tone, less belligerent than the effects in the first quartet; slow sections are hauntingly melodic and memorably atmospheric. Calder Quartet, Daniel Alexander (flute), Alicia Lee (clarinet), Sivan Magen (harp).