Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998) was a leading figure in British contemporary music of the 20-th century. His 4 string quartets span his entire creative life, and show him as an extremely skilful and innovative composer. He wrote a total of seven string quartets, along with two early efforts that he himself suppressed, deeming the works too immature. Like the symphonies, the Quartets Nos. 1–4, heard on this disc, span Tippett’s development as a composer, and reveal his deep feeling and skill for contrapuntal music.
Drawing particular inspiration from Beethoven, who Tippett held a great admiration for, the quartets display a rigorous intellectual logic and stylistic features that bear the hallmarks of Beethoven’s late style. In String Quartets Nos. 2 and 3, for example, Tippett places particular prominence on fugal writing, Nos. 1 and 2 display hints of sonata form, while String Quartet No.4 is a multi-movement work ¬– four movements played without a break. Yet despite Tippett’s sources of inspiration, these works are also testament to his fundamentally innovative approach to composition, heard in the complex and intricate combinations of rhythms, structural experimentation and assured manipulation of string sonorities.
- The Britten Quartet already showed their special qualities in British 20th century music, their recording of the String Quartets of Benjamin Britten (Brilliant Classics 9168) won high praise.
- Booklet notes included