GRAHAM FITKIN (b.1963): String Quartets - Servant, Inside, A Small Quartet, Another Small Quartet, String, Pawn.
Catalogue Number: 01T058
Description: The more things stay the same, the more they change. This could apply both to minimalism in general and to Fitkin's approach to the string quartet in particular. Servant (1992) is a good example of the basic elements that make Fitkin's music instantly recognisable; brash, confrontational insistence reminiscent of his teacher, Andriessen; naggingly gratifying chord sequences from American post-minimalism, and a fondness for extended passages in strict rhythmic unison. The energetic central section of 2004's Pawn is an obsessive, hectoring episode of rhythmic unison, but the character of the work is much more bleak, the outer sections chilly progressions of slow, quiet chords. Inside (2006) also starts and ends slowly and quietly, but the material feels warmer, closer to resolution, and the rhythmic, energetic middle section is less abrasive and more varied in texture, with rapid episodes that alternate echoes of Glass, Reich, Nyman and Andriessen with reminiscences of the opening material. The Small Quartets are very small indeed, and quite unlike the other works here, sounding like little sketches for a relatively conventional neo-romantic quartet viewed from a Skemptonesque angle. String, from 2007, is very different, and is in fact quite untypical of Fitkin's output. Its overlapping and evolving counterpoint of looped phrases returns to another of the foundations of minimalism; Steve Reich's processes and interlocking patterned textures. Sacconi Quartet.