MATTHEW TAYLOR (b.1964): String Quartets Nos. 5-7.
Catalogue Number: 03O094
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0144
Description: Taylor's name is frequently linked to that of the great, sadly missed and still strangely undervalued Robert Simpson, both as conductor of the elder composer's music and in terms of their shared compositional antecedents and preoccupations. Indeed, with no sense of slavish imitation, Taylor may justly be regarded as carrying on an important tradition in British music in Simpson's footsteps. Taylor readily acknowledges Haydn and Beethoven as important models, and his use of tonality is certainly related, via Simpson, to Nielsen, from whom a bracing, muscular energy has also been inherited. All these quartets use classical forms, more or less explicitly, while developing new and original structures from them. The Fifth, for instance, starts with an energetic sonata allegro, continues with a fugue and ends with a gentle, pastoral lullaby; the innovation is the way these distinct formal divisions are blended into a cohesive single span, progressing from combative activity to peace and calm in one long paragraph. The Sixth encloses two beautiful and heartfelt slow movements between two jubilant outer movements. The Seventh is an easy-going, attractive work, full of humor; very classically structured, it consciously pays tribute to Haydn and Mendelssohn. A lively scherzo seems to update Haydn's musical jokes to the world of the slapstick film comedian, much as the classical harmony is updated with a 20th-century edge, while remaining faithful to its tonal vocabulary. The genial slow movement is rich and glowing, and is followed by a sparkling Mendelssohnian finale. Dante String Quartet, Allegri String Quartet, Salieri String Quartet.