Friday, January 24, 2014

Miklos Rozsa: String Quartets

Miklos Rozsa: String Quartets
Tippett Quartet

Miklos Rozsa's film scores are well-known. His classical compositions less so -- especially his chamber music. The Tippett Quartet perform his two string quartets and an early string trio, three works worthy of our attention.

The String Trio (1922) was written when Rosza was 15 and just starting his career in Vienna. Although not as polished as the quartets, the work shows Rozsa's talent for creating interesting melodies supported by lush harmonies was there from the first.

Listening to the 1950 String Quartet No. 1, I was reminded of Shostakovich's quartet writing. Rozsa's quartet is a strongly tonal work, but one with a decided edge to it. The biting unison passages to me had the same impact as those in Shostakovich's Op. 110 quartet.

Rosza's String Quaret No. 2 appeared 31 years after the first. It's the most prickly of the three works, though still very much neoromantic. The scherzo especially brims with good humor, and the andante melody is beautifully constructed, as one might expect.

The Tippett Quartet is a young ensemble. They have a clean, precise sound that can sometimes seem a little reserved. Perhaps that will soften over time.

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