LYELL CRESSWELL (b.1944): String Quartet, 10 Capricci for String Quartet, 9 Ricercari for Violin and Cello, Koteteteto for String Quartet (1st movement).
Catalogue Number: 05T069
Reference: DCD 34199
Description: Cresswell has forged his own musical path with the kind of non-conforming individuality on which New Zealanders - and Scots - pride themselves, but also a no-nonsense directness which is also common to both his native and adopted cultures, which in musical terms manifests as a communicative approachability even when the harmonies and timbres become quite unexpected and unfamiliar, as is often the case. The Quartet is an imposing work of severe countenance, based on the form (not so much the content) of Gaelic psalm singing, in which a long melodic line is ornamented by a dense heterophony of other parts "... something like a Celtic knot pattern." In the second movement, these embellishments are brusque repeated fragments, while in the third movement imitative duos pair off within the ensemble, while a long melodic thread establishes itself throughout. The Capricci are short movements based on ten dance forms - some familiar, some exceedingly obscure - all subverted and humorously distorted (there is no question that they are not intended to be taken entirely seriously) by odd timbres or strange harmonies accompanying the tonal and predictable underlying basis of the piece. The Ricercari are responses to the paintings of Maurizio Bottarelli, whose strong forms and wealth of textural detail are analogous to Cresswell's assessment of the artists work: "There is always something to appreciate about the pattern and the lines and the texture even before you begin to admire the technique." Red Note Ensemble.