laurel goes to Northern Flowers and the Boris
. The complete cycle
of numbered quartets spans the whole creative lifetime
bar the last two decades. There are some unnumbered student
works outside the main canon but these have been disclaimed
by the composer. We need not be preoccupied by them.
from the same year as the Sinfonietta.
It is a work
of saturated singing lines - of delight in melody. This
is often presented in canon form yet never succumbs to
stultifying academicism. The sound-world recalls an updated
hybrid of the Sibelius Voces Intimae
First - yet more translucent than either. Contrast the Second
was written a year before the Piano Quintet (just reissued
on Forum-Regis). This four movement work encompasses a
more subdued world against which melody sings out as a
still small voice confident in its capacity to transform.
presents as a sinister night-march -
slightly Britten-like. The Largo
screws up the tension
even tighter and this time the little voice seems to present
no balm or escape.
its origins in the score for the film While The Front
. It's a six movement work which is by
turns tense and confidingly pattering. It is full of acrid
rasping attack, murmurous and invocatory episodes, chilly,
expectant and consolatory. A chill of despair adds a degree
to the three movement floor-plan of the First from almost
twenty years before. This is a sometimes stern aggressive
work yet with healing in the wings of the middle andante.
is severe and offers little warmth
to the needy heart. Instead there is a lyrical and quiet
fragility that offers a low key but touching apotheosis.
two quartets are each in a single 14 minute movement. Like
their two predecessors they are dedicated to the Prokofiev
Quartet with whom Tchaikovsky recorded the Piano Quintet
of 1962 (Forum-Regis). The Fifth
returns to the
lyrical pole addressed by the First Quartet. it again has
a slender fragility - which we know from the end of the
Fourth - presented above a trudging ostinato. The Sixth
packed with invention - some of it acrid, angular and high
tensile. Even so Tchaikovsky can never abdicate the singing
voice that forms part of the warp and weft of his creative
great works of the last century and largely unknown. They
will reward your effort and investment. Given their head
they will form part of the treasury of music that embraces
your emotions and forms the backdrop to your life. Wonderful
performances, not too breathy and pellucidly recorded.
see also the index
of all Boris Tchaikovsky reviews on Musicweb International