JOHN ROSE (b.1928): String Quartets No. 1, Op. 14 and No. 2, Op. 17, Solo Piano: Prelude and Fugue, Op. 20a, Prelude and 2 Fugues, Op. 20b, Essay on DSCH, Op. 7.
Catalogue Number: 01M069
Label: Divine Art
Reference: dda 25092
Description: For reasons not explored in depth in the booklet notes, Rose, who happens to be a contemporary of Ronald Stevenson to the year, has taken a very economical approach to his composing career; 1970's Essay is only his Op. 7; a lengthy hiatus only ended in the 1990s further interrupted his output, which by 2001 had reached Op. 20. Nevertheless, these works are plainly those of a composer with plenty to say and the technical means to say it with clarity and eloquence. A student of Rubbra, Rose is a member of that loose assemblage of 20th-century British composers including Stevenson, Alan Bush and Bernard Stevens, who found the resources of tonality and Baroque and classical forms more than sufficient for their needs (while occasionally flirting with dodecaphonic construction of thematic material), and who found the example of Shostakovich inspiring. The first quartet uses the DSCH motif; the Preludes and Fugues are very much of a kind with the Russian's set in the genre. The extended second quartet is an especially eloquent and heartfelt piece, with more than a hint of late Beethoven about it, and a somber air familiar from Shostakovich's chamber works. All very fine music, suggesting that the compose's handful of large-scale works would also be a welcome addition to the catalogue. The Edinburgh Quartet, Robert Melling (piano).