Hyperion Records

String Quartet No 14
composer
1990

Recordings
'Simpson: String Quartets Nos 14 & 15' (CDA66626)
Simpson: String Quartets Nos 14 & 15
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66626  Last few CD copies remaining  
Details
Movement 1: Allegro non troppo
Track 1 on CDA66626 [7'48] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 2: Presto
Track 2 on CDA66626 [3'50] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 3: Andante
Track 3 on CDA66626 [9'07] Last few CD copies remaining
Movement 4: Allegro
Track 4 on CDA66626 [9'24] Last few CD copies remaining

String Quartet No 14
The Vanbrugh Quartet gave the first performance of Simpson’s String Quartet No 14 in 1991. This is the first of Robert Simpson’s quartets since No 6 (1975) to adopt a classical four-movement design, and perhaps provides an ideal introduction for those still unfamiliar with his music. The opening Allegro is fluid, highly active and predominantly contrapuntal in texture. Though the movement avoids strict sonata form, a clear second subject appears: a nervous, double-dotted figure which generates further contrapuntal entries and immense rhythmic energy at a later stage. The ending dies away quietly in a mood of temporary stillness.

Simpson has mastered the art of writing true Beethovenian, one-in-a-bar scherzi. The second movement of this quartet is such an example: lithe, energetic and vital with plenty of dynamism packed into a mere four minutes. Much relaxation is provided by the next movement, a noble, eloquent Andante which grows steadily from the cello’s opening phrase. In much of Simpson’s later slow movements a Bach-like serenity and deep contemplation can be sensed. Here is a fine example of such, as well as being one of the most beautifully transparent quartet slow movements this century.

Rough humour dominates the Allegro finale, a piece of great force, deliberation and physical strength. Much of the movement is subdued, however, and there is a long stretch in the middle that is mainly pianissimo, carried along by a gentle momentum. The final bars generate massive excitement as the music gathers steam, and explosive triplets are scattered amongst all four instruments.

There are few string quartets since Beethoven that achieve a perfect balance, both structurally and emotionally, whilst also displaying the composer’s imagination at its finest. The Quartet No 14 of Robert Simpson is such an example. It is dedicated to John Young.

from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1993

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA66626 track 3
Andante
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-93-62603
Duration
9'07
Recording date
19 August 1992
Recording venue
St Michael's Church, Highgate, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Simpson: String Quartets Nos 14 & 15 (CDA66626)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: March 1993
    Last few CD copies remaining
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