RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

CD Feature/ J. Corigliano/J. Friedman: "String Quartet/String Quartet No.2"

img  Tobias

Looked at it from a purely physical point of view, this disc comprises the meeting of two generations: John Corigliano, born in 1938, popularly known as the Oscar-winning composer of “The Red Violin” and counted as one of the most eminent American symphonics in one corner and Jefferson Friedman, now in his mid-30s and long past the stage when he was “merely” regarded a great talent, in the other. On a more musical note, there are probably at least four generations involved here.

Corigliano, at least, was raised in a Classical environment and if his music connects with so many different audiences around the globe, then it surely has a lot to do with the fact that his style reaches out to the past and the present alike. His appointment for “Red Violin” at least to a degree stems from his ability to incorporate the recognisable into the unexpected and to allow the outside world into the idiosyncracies of his creative mind. The other reason may well be his weariness of sophisticated irony and intellectual ambiguities – there certainly are no trapdoors in a romantic, sweetly tuned piece like the opening “Snapshot:: circa 1909”, inspired by the family photograph pictured on the album cover. The more astonishing fact is that he is capable of transferring his personal principles to the critical form of the String Quartet. In the eyes of Corigliano, the String Quartet is not necessarily a synonym for progress at all cost, but rather a metaphor for modern times, its elements showing almost complete free will at the microlevel and yet recognising their interdepencency and a need for close interaction on a macrolayer. Genres and musical periods do not matter here, as he unalarmedly uses inspiration from counterpoint, Bartok and the morning prayer of Moroccan muezzins. Later reworked into his second symphony, his String Quartet bases around the themes of disintegration and coherence, of disbandening and yet remaining connected, of silence and sound. High-pitched, almost drone-like ambiances meet ragged monotonal rhythms aspiring to one of four pitch centers, while the movements group around a Nocturne with fragmented, uncertain threads melting into decided unison at intervals. A dense work with a slightly claustrophobic mood and of a brittle tenderness.

Much of what makes Corigliano unique lives on in his former pupil Jefferson Friedman: The cinematic wideness of his chords, the clever use of themes and the capacity to hold a work of various emotional states together by weaving a carpet of red threads. And yet, Friedman’s second String Quartet demonstrates a more autobiographical approach to writing, his work constituting an aural diary of sorts. Because his themes are highly associative, this never results in navel-gazing, but in a composition often suspended in time, with many small movements nudging each other towards standstills of moving intensity.

The diverse influences which have entered their scores are hardly ever as obvious as in the “Fugue” incorporated into Corigliano’s String Quartet and mostly remain on an inspirational level, with one flame sparking the next. How many generations exactly are bundled together here is therefore impossible to discern. What can be said with relative certainty, however, is that their handshake is not just one of respect – but of mutual understanding as well.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: John Corigliano at G. Schirmer Inc.
Homepage: Jefferson Friedman
Homepage: Naxos Recordings

Related articles

CD Feature/ Krzysztof Penderecki: "Symphony No. 8"
A chance within the dilemma: ...
15 Questions to The Pavel Haas Quartet
To the Pavel Haas Quartet, ...
Helmut Lachenmann: Handshake with the Arditti Quartet
Kairos Records has announced the ...
15 Questions to the Zemlinsky Quartet
I've had long discussions in ...
CD Feature/ Peter Maxwell Davies: "Naxos Quartets Nos. 7 and 8"
Stone-made allegories and a musical ...
15 Questions to the Corigliano Quartet
"John Corigliano: Music for String ...
CD Feature/ The Fibonacci Sequence: "Ned Rorem: Chamber Music"
Strong enough to stand on ...
CD Feature/ Lex van Delden: "Complete String Quartets"
Harmony and atonality: Like drinking ...
CD Feature/ Richard Wagner: "Das Rheingold"
The revelations just keep coming.
CD Feature/ Douglas Lilburn: "A song of Islands"
A second hint at what ...
CD Feature/ Monteverdi: "Madrigals Book 5"
A classic of sorrow and ...
CD Feature/ Vivaldi: "Sacred Music 2"
The spiritual journey continues.
CD feature/ Ana Maria Martinez: "Soprano Songs and Arias"
Mellow, dreamy and addictive

Partner sites