MALCOLM ARNOLD (1921-2006): String Quartets No. 1, Op. 23 and So. 2, Op. 118, Phantasy for String Quartet "Vita Abundans".
Catalogue Number: 04I014
Description: Although only eight years separate the Phantasy of 1941 from the first quartet, the stylistic gap is much wider, the former based on a bluesy and a secondary, melancholic theme which are worked out in typical Cobbett Competition terseness (11 minutes) while the Op. 23 is a tough, uncompromising piece whose influences are plainly Hindemith and Bartók and, thanks to motivic compression, lasts less than 20 minutes. The second quartet (1975) comes from a difficult time in Arnold's life (think of the Symphony No. 7 from two years earlier) and which enfolds a wide variety of emotion - sometimes inward and nostalgic, sometimes bitter and harsh - in its four movements lasting almost half an hour. Maggini Quartet.