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Hyperion Records

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Shades of Night by Nesta Jennings Campbell (d1951)
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museums, Gloucestershire / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67638
Recording details: February 2007
Menuhin Hall, Yehudi Menuhin School, Stoke d'Abernon, Cobham, Surrey, United Kingdom
Produced by Amanda Hurton
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: November 2007
Total duration: 7 minutes 19 seconds

Two Pieces
composer
No 1: completed on 7 November 1938; No 2 completed on 4 October 1950; dedicated to the Griller String Quartet

Andante moderato  [3'52]
Allegro molto  [3'27]

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The first of the Two Pieces for string quartet (Andante moderato) was completed in Châtel, Haute-Savoie, on 7 November 1938—some two months prior to Bloch’s return to the USA after eight years in Europe. The second (Allegro molto) was finished nearly twelve years later in Agate Beach, Oregon, on 4 October 1950. They are dedicated to the Griller String Quartet, ardent champions of Bloch’s chamber music both in their native United Kingdom and abroad. These short movements, based on motifs appearing in sketches that date from much earlier in Bloch’s life, have been described as ‘studies’ for the larger String Quartets Nos 2–5 that he composed respectively in 1945, 1952, 1953 and 1956.

The first piece is typical of Bloch’s lyrical style. Elements of counterpoint alternate with chordal passages; and the chromaticisms are always conceived within the context of tonality or modality. A relatively calm mood at the beginning and at the end contrasts with the violent intensity of the middle portion of the movement, the main theme of which recurs in the middle of the second piece, a vigorous perpetuum mobile in 6/8 time. Here, aside from a brief respite about half way through, the momentum is maintained by the use of rapidly repeated notes and chords, accents, and rhythms of ‘two against three’. Whereas the first piece ends quietly in low register in Bloch’s meditative key of C major, the second concludes fortissimo in high tessitura with a passage in the Lydian and Phrygian modes on B. Unlike Night and Paysages, the Two Pieces appear to have no directly programmatic intent.

from notes by Alexander Knapp © 2007

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