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Hyperion Records

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The South Downs near Eastbourne by Edward Reginald Frampton (1872-1923)
© Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67857
Recording details: July 2010
Potton Hall, Dunwich, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Produced by Jeremy Hayes
Engineered by Ben Connellan
Release date: July 2011
Total duration: 27 minutes 41 seconds

String Quartet in E minor, Op 83
begun summer 1918, completed Christmas Eve the same year; first public performance given by Albert Sammons, WH Reed, Raymond Jeremy and Felix Salmond at Wigmore Hall on 21 May 1919

Allegro moderato  [8'49]
Allegro molto  [8'55]

Other recordings available for download
Coull Quartet
Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The mood of the String Quartet in E minor Op 83 is wry, the sharp rhythmic gestures at odds with the hollow, irresolute harmonies. The first movement is intricate, with subtle internal cross-references. The tonality is fluid. The first two bars are in E minor but rise to a D natural, giving a modal flavour. Elgar often avoids root-position chords, and relates keys by minor thirds rather than by more conventional fifths. The second subject sounds smooth and lyrical but its rhythm turns out to be an expansion of the jerky first subject. When it is developed the viola has it between soaring violin and plunging cello. Recapitulated, it becomes sad and inarticulate, broken by rests. It is extraordinary that this highly strung music should flow so spontaneously. There is a coming to terms with life here, an experienced but undogmatic voice.

The second movement sounds artless. Piacevole, Elgar directed it—‘agreeable, pleasant’. Elgar’s wife likened it to ‘captured sunshine’: perhaps the long spells of drowsy repetitions against pedal points made her think of the ‘sound of bees and insects on a hot summer’s afternoon’. But there are also stabs of pain, and the sound, though sweet, is thin, often in only three parts, sprinkled with harmonics and finally muted. This sunshine is fitful and autumnal.

Lady Elgar wrote that the finale is ‘most fiery & sweeps along like Galloping of Squadrons’. The thrust and resolution of the opening justify that description, as does the breadth of the ending. The second subject allows some relaxation, but a phrase from it is then vigorously propelled, so bringing together the motoric power of the first subject and the lyricism of the second.

from notes by Diana McVeagh © 2011

Other albums featuring this work
'Elgar: String Quartet; Bridge: Idylls; Walton: String Quartet' (CDH55218)
Elgar: String Quartet; Bridge: Idylls; Walton: String Quartet
MP3 £4.00FLAC £4.00ALAC £4.00Buy by post £4.40 CDH55218  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) Composers of World War I  

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