GERARD SCHURMANN (b.1924): Chamber Music, Vol. 2 - String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, Trio for Clarinet, Cello and Piano, Fantasia for Cello and Piano.
Catalogue Number: 05P075
Label: Toccata Classics
Reference: TOCC 0220
Description: Schurmann's two extant quartets are comparatively recent works - 2003 and 2012 (two much earlier pieces have been withdrawn) - which is perhaps surprising as the genre seems such a natural fit for the composer's elegant, controlled yet intensely expressive aesthetic. Both are in conventional four-movement form and both are largely tonal, with Schurmann's usual typical sinewy, somewhat astringent approach to harmony, which is nonetheless capable of taking on a deep, burnished richness in the deeply felt slow movements that lie at the heart of both works. The outer movements tend toward a terse, ferocious energy, characterized by tough, decisive unison writing, tempered with beguilingly lyrical episodes. The trio (2003) was conceived as a tribute to Brahms and especially his Op.114, which undoubtedly influenced the work's sense of Romantic drama and some aspects of the harmonic thinking - notably expressive and limned in warm, chordal textures - and some aspects of melodic contour, especially flowing and songlike in this work. The much earlier Fantasia of 1967 is powerfully expressive in a considerably more acerbic, pungent harmonic language than the later works, with a greater tendency toward unresolved dissonance and an edgy, unstable approach to meter, though no less emotionally generous - perhaps even more so, in a more raw, unbridled way, and certainly equally compelling and communicative. Lyris Quartet, Håkan Rosengren (clarinet), Clive Greensmith (cello), Mikhail Korzhev (piano).