Hyperion Records

String Quartet No 13

'Simpson: String Quartet No 13 & String Quintet No 2' (CDA66905)
Simpson: String Quartet No 13 & String Quintet No 2
Movement 1: Allegro molto
Track 8 on CDA66905 [4'17] Archive Service
Movement 2: Andante
Track 9 on CDA66905 [5'37] Archive Service
Movement 3: Vivace
Track 10 on CDA66905 [5'02] Archive Service
Movement 4: Andante
Track 11 on CDA66905 [3'05] Archive Service

String Quartet No 13
The Thirteenth Quartet was commissioned by the Cardiff Festival, and completed in December 1989. The first performance was given the following year by The Delmé Quartet, who have enjoyed a close relationship with Simpson Quartets for many years. The work is dedicated to Graham and Alex Melville-Mason.

No 13 is the most compact of Simpson’s later Quartets. There are four short movements which play without a break and adopt a fast–slow–fast–slow pattern. A bold, leaping figure on first violin outlining the notes of the triad sets the Quartet into motion. Though concise, this highly athletic Allegro instantly creates a vigorous current through closely imitative writing and (latterly) through the introduction of pattering triplet configurations. The following Andante is again largely contrapuntal in design, opening with a meditative violin melody, against a sustained low C on the cello. There is one brief climax which quickly subsides to reveal the Vivace, a kind of duple-time Scherzo full of half-lights and muttering ostinati. This Vivace, the most elaborate of the four movements, becomes more hard-driven as it progresses, culminating in a passage of sustained ferocity, requiring great intensity from the players. But it is bluntly halted, leaving a slow, chorale-like epilogue marked ppp, ma sempre espressivo, which swiftly eases all the former turbulence.

from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1997

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