Celebrating the music of Tori Amos, the string quartet tribute Precious Things was an elegant and haunting reflection of an incendiary artist. Pieces follows that original release with more incredible interpretations of Tori's best-loved classics. Spurred by incredible feedback from her dedicated fans, talented musicians recorded another set of sparse, lyrical arrangements. Pieces is a meticulously-crafted album and classically-charged suite of music that every Tori Amos fan will want in their collection.
Vitamin's String Quartet Tribute to Iron Maiden draws primarily from the pioneering U.K. metal band's fertile early-'80s streak: Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, and Powerslave. It starts strong with "Run to the Hills," "The Number of the Beast," and "Two Minutes to Midnight," all three of which feature stirring violins and crisp changes. The addition of light percussion to the normal lineup of violin, viola, and cello is also an interesting move. Later highlights include "The Trooper" as well as the Somewhere in Time favorite "Wasted Years." It would be impossible for the musicians here to fully replicate the power and rapid-fire playing of Iron Maiden. But they are able to climb into the grandeur and ambitious structure of these songs, and that's something in which Maiden fans are sure to be interested.
As persistency goes, one must give credit where it is due to the Vitamin imprint. Their rigorous schedule of releases assures the public that there will be, at bare minimum, one to two releases per month paying homage to a current pop icon or legendary rock figure. With this installment, the label looks to honor one of grunge's most revered albums, if not the most revered album of the era: Nirvana's Nevermind. Stripped of the brutal percussion work, the squelching fierce attack of Kurt Cobain's guitar mastery and his trademark screams, the quartet find and emphasize layer after layer within the simplicity of Cobain's melodies and song arrangements. While some songs don't transfer over well in the process, others work quite nicely. While most people can easily dismiss this as a novelty (and to a degree, it is), there are interesting aspects to this album that the die-hard Nirvana fan will find intriguing and enjoyable.
The String Quartet No. 1 in D major, Opus 11, was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's first completed string quartet of three string quartets, published during his lifetime. (An earlier attempt had been abandoned after the first movement had been completed.) Composed in February 1871, it was premiered in Moscow on 16/28 March 1871 by four members of the Russian Musical Society: Ferdinand Laub and Ludvig Minkus, violins; Pryanishnikov, viola; and Wilhelm Fitzenhagen, cello.
Grechaninov tends to be remembered rather tepidly as a conservative relic from Imperial Russia. Yet his progress as a child of the 1860s went as far as one might reasonably expect, from the healthy absorption of 19th-century Russian masters in the Op. 2 Quartet, his self-styled ‘first large independent work’, to the chromatic experimentation of the D minor Quartet, composed in 1913. They make a pretty pair. The warm, slightly laid-back approach of the likeable Utrecht Quartet fits the simple folksiness of the earlier piece like a delicately fashioned glove, making modest claims for a humble offshoot of Borodin’s glorious Second Quartet, with a discreet dash of Tchaikovskian melancholy. A more urgent, forward-moving approach would surely make a better case for the seemingly fragmented gestures of Op. 70’s opening movement; but first violinist Eeva Koskinen’s unaffected way with the Largo melody before fugal earnestness takes over is ideal, and an equally natural robustness highlights Grechaninov’s instinctive if hard-fought goodbye to chromaticism in much the more successful and meaningful of the two finales. Worth investigating, but there’s no doubt that Taneyev is a long way in front of Grechaninov as master of turn-of-the-century Russian chamber music.
Since its formation in 1982 the Salomon String Quartet has established its position as one of the world's leading ensembles specialising in the historical performance of the classical string quartet repertoire. The quartet has toured extensively in Europe, the USA, the Far East, Israel and Australia as well as making regular appearances at British music societies and festivals. It has made many records for Hyperion and given numerous radio and television broadcasts. In addition to the music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, which forms the basis of its repertoire, the Salomon Quartet has always been committed to the exploration and performance of the wealth of quartet music written by their contemporaries.
This limited edition for the Haydn Bi-Centenary is a bargin price reissue of renowned Aeolian Quartet recordings from the 1970's. They are brilliantly played the late analogue sound has been well remastered by Decca. It is strange there are so few complete recordings of these quartets as the music is quite superb. From the early 'divertimento' type pieces through to the profound later works there is never a dull moment.
In 1827, when writing his Quartet in A minor, Op.13, the 18-year-old Felix Mendelssohn was especially interested in Beethovens late quartets at a time when these works were generally written off as confused fantasies of a deaf musician. Mendelssohn's debt to Beethoven is evident in the important role of polyphonic techniques, particularly in the focus on cyclical connections between movements. Ten years on, Mendelssohn composed the three quartets, Op. 44, the D major quartet that closes the present disc the last of these to be completed; on publication, however, Mendelssohn placed it first in the set. Besides the seven complete quartets, Mendelssohn also wrote four individual string quartet movements. These were gathered together and published posthumously as op. 81, and on this second volume of their complete Mendelssohn cycle the Escher Quartet perform two of these pieces, both conceived in August 1847, shortly before the composers death.