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.
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.
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.
The string quartets of Danish music's eccentric outsider Rued Langgaard (1893-1952) are passionate works of the composer's youth, representing both his nostalgically romantic side and his profoundly visionary modernity. For the first time on CD, this recording series presents all 9 quartets in the award-winning young Nightingale String Quartet's distinctly dramatic interpretation based on the revised Rued Langgaard Edition.
The peerless Takacs Quartet recently nominated for a Gramophone award for their second disc of Brahms's string quartets, continue their exploration of the Romantic chamber music tradition with this disc of Schumann. The Piano Quintet is by far Schumann's most popular chamber work and one of the most beloved works in the genre. Schumann was the first romantic composer to pair the piano with the string quartet. Schumann studied the string quartets of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn and his quartet Op. 41 No. 3 demonstrates these influences. However, it contains many highly original strokes, particularly the casting of the scherzo as a set of variations. The Takacs Quartet are joined by Marc-Andre Hamelin in an invigorating partnership that has already been widely acclaimed on the concert platform.
Franck’s Piano Quintet and Debussy’s String Quartet make an apt and unusual coupling, each work its composer’s only, unsurpassable, contribution to the genre. Both receive authoritative performances from Marc-André Hamelin and the Takács Quartet.