COLIN MATTHEWS (b.1946): Divertimento for Double String Quartet, Oboe Quartet No. 1 (Divertimenti Ensemble), Triptych (Schubert Ensemble), 5 Concertinos for Wind Quintet (Haffner Wind Ensemble), String Quartet No. 2 (Brindisi Quartet).
Catalogue Number: 10K081
Description: These chamber works from the 1980s showcase the expressive range and meticulous craftsmanship of one of the UK's most consistently satisfying and original composers. The Divertimento has a great deal in common with the æsthetics of the very end of Romanticism - the last of Mahler, early Schoenberg - which also inspired another major (and much larger) British chamber work of our time, Alistair Hinton's extraordinary String Quintet. Like that work, Matthews' piece occupies a nocturnal, shadowy world, with a constant undertow of barely suppressed passion. The oboe quartet is intricately structured; a set of variations superimposed on a mosaic of textures provided by different instrumental combinations. Both the Triptych (for piano and strings) and the Concertinos play with various instrumental textures in lively and inventive fashion, but it is the remarkable quartet (1985, largely rewritten in 1989) that seems the more original work; a tightly organized and irrepressibly vital work, it consists of a vigorous, scurrying first movement followed by five short movements of contrasting character. In their multi-layered and rhythmically complex textures they pay homage to, and continue, the 20th century quartet tradition exemplified by Bartók and continued by Carter.