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Hyperion Records

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Dido (2007, detail) by Ewa Gargulinska (b1941)
Private Collection / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67943
Recording details: March 2012
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: March 2013
Total duration: 7 minutes 1 seconds

'Whatever this music's challenges… the Royal String Quartet meet them head on … spacious and immediate sound, along with informative booklet notes: those for whom the present coupling appeals should not hesitate' (Gramophone)

'The Royal String Quartet, with a detailed, clear recording, give Penderecki's First Quartet a natural precision and direction … [Lutosławski's quartet] packs emotional punch. This is great chamber music' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Powerfully dramatic and moving' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Fine, natural engineering lets the music, and these mind-blowing performances, speak for themselves' (International Record Review)

'With its warm, generous sound, and its performances of emotional depth and searing intensity, this is an extremely fine disc' (The Strad)

'That Lutosławski had a more avant-garde side is borne out by his String Quartet of 1965 … the result, in this performance by the Royal String Quartet, is as potent as it is innovative. On the same disc, Lutosławski’s younger compatriot Krzysztof Penderecki is represented by his three quartets—the first two obsessed with isolated percussive sonorities and the third unashamedly harmonious' (Financial Times)

'The Royal String Quartet’s performance affords clarity to every layer of Lutosławski’s musical vision, reminding us yet again that even when dealing with fierce complexity, his music is always precisely balanced and effortlessly economical. These musicians bring a wealth of distinctive characterisation to the piece, making for a gripping and invigorating experience, explicitly recorded' (

String Quartet No 1
1960; first performed in Cincinnati by the LaSalle Quartet in 1962

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
Penderecki’s String Quartet No 1, which was premiered in Cincinnati in 1962 by the LaSalle Quartet, is one of the group of works from 1960–62 that secured his international reputation. It is also the shortest, but it packs a punch in its seven minutes. It is formed of two panels, roughly equal in length, of which the first provides material for the second. This material consists not of melodies, harmonies or regular metres and rhythms but of a range of unconventional sounds measured against nominal one-second ‘barlines’. This sound-world became known within Poland as ‘sonorism’, an approach to composition that broke with tradition wherever possible.

The first panel opens with a challenging instruction for the players to perform tremolo without using the bow. As their lines develop into glissandi, Penderecki begins a series of slow-burning interpenetrations of ideas as various as playing between the bridge and the tailpiece, striking the strings with the palm of the hand, hitting the strings col legno (with the wooden back of the bow) and playing the highest possible note pizzicato. The music slows perceptibly through longer note values, then pauses.

The second panel presents the ensemble in a more uniform light. Different sonoristic textures are explored in soundblocks, sequentially rather than simultaneously. Penderecki also introduces new sounds, such as bows playing on the tailpiece of the instruments. Despite a brief return to the heterogeneous textures of the first panel, the impression is one of the isolated dispersal of its elements, rather than any attempt at conventional coherence.

from notes by Adrian Thomas © 2013

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