STEVEN MACKEY (b.1956): Ars Moriendi for String Quartet, 'Lude for String Quartet, Gaggle and Flock for 2 String Quartets.
Catalogue Number: 06J099
Description: Ars Morendi is a meditation on death - specifically, that of the composer's father, with allusions to traditional laments and to episodes from the dying man's life. Ordered structures emerge from keening sounds or the imitation of a death rattle or failing heartbeat; more robust movements recall characteristics of the departed individual. The experience (described in the notes) was apparently a profound and disturbing one for the composer; this intense and harrowing score provides a similar one for the listener. 'Lude takes a fragment from Contrapunctus XI of Bach's Art of Fugue and frames it in music of Mackey's own, sliding further away from the original, then finding its way back again. Gaggle and Flock is an exercise in the interplay between two quartets, wth various pairings and combinations allowing ingenious counterpoint and antiphonal effects, musically punnning on the behaviours of geese. The composer's rhythmically spiky, pungently dissonant yet tonally based vocabulary lends itself as aptly to these games as to the darker hues of the opening work. Borromeo String Quartet, Brentano String Quartet.