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Track(s) taken from CDA67638

Two Pieces

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

Goldner String Quartet
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

Cover artwork: Shades of Night by Nesta Jennings Campbell (d1951)
Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museums, Gloucestershire / Bridgeman Art Library, London


'A fabulous CD this, easily the best recording of Bloch's chamber music I've heard in years … the first Quintet, a product of the early 1920s, seems to combine the acerbic drive of middle-period Bartók with the kind of veiled sensuality one associates more with Chausson or Fauré. Bloch's use of quarter-tones, aimed at intensifying the work's already heightened emotional atmosphere, requires careful handling, and the Goldner Quartet make them sound both musically striking and entirely natural. If you need a sampling-point, try the finale's opening, where the sense of urgency will hold you riveted … the Quintet's quiet coda is rapturously beautiful and the blending of voices between Piers Lane and the Goldners simply could not be bettered … the music is truly wonderful, the playing entirely sympathetic and the sound perfectly balanced' (Gramophone)

'This new beautifully balanced recording in which Piers Lane partners the Australian-based Goldner Quartet has the edge in almost every respect … in the First Quintet Lane and the Goldners manage to communicate the urgency and immediacy of Bloch's musical argument with far greater fervour than their Czech colleagues on the Praga Digitalis release … most attractive are the three Paysages, depicting landscapes as disparate as the frozen Arctic wastes, the slopes of the Alps and the energetic exotic rhythms of the South Pacific islands in vivid colours' (BBC Music Magazine)

'The performances are superb! The Goldners and pianist Lane play with complete technical command and an emotional commitment to the works' (American Record Guide)

'This Hyperion release is not only perfectly compiled … but also brings, with the opening of the First Piano Quintet, music that is particularly striking and which also becomes compulsive … the middle movement is an atmospheric Andante mistico, melodic and spacious, strangely beautiful and full of Eastern promise, exotic and ethereal, the writing skilful and imaginative … a powerful and enveloping whole that is both intoxicating yet underpinned with logic … Piers Lane (a sensitive chamber music player whose concerto-soloist confidence and personality is a boon) and the Goldner String Quartet (a group of real distinction) give superb performances, deeply committed, vividly declaring without sacrificing good balance, attention to detail and a wide dynamic range, qualities brought forth by the excellent recording' (International Record Review)

'[Piano Quintet No 1] ranks among the finest in the genre … a work of astonishing immediacy, at once lyrical and aggressive, that takes you on a lurching emotional journey before achieving stability in the most serene C major imaginable … the performances, by the Goldner String Quartet and pianist Piers Lane, are tremendously authoritative in their combination of technical daring and expressive power' (The Guardian)

'In his two finely crafted piano quintets, we find sonata form mingling with quarter-tones and an identifiably Jewish lyricism: very engaging, especially in these performances from Lane and the Goldner String Quartet' (Financial Times)

'Start with the Andante mistico of the First Quintet and you'll discover real intensity in expression and music that borders on the religious in its devoted strength … presented with such vigour and playful ease, particularly by Piers Lane … all essential listening, but the musically most rewarding works here are without doubt the two piano quintets, which I will return to time and time again, not least for the brilliant Piers Lane' (Pianist)
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

La première des Two Pieces pour quatuor à cordes (Andante moderato) fut achevée à Châtel, en Haute-Savoie, le 7 novembre 1938—quelque deux mois avant le retour de Bloch aux États-Unis, après huit ans passés en Europe. La seconde (Allegro molto) fut terminée presque douze ans plus tard à Agate Beach (Oregon), le 4 octobre 1950. Toutes deux sont dédiées au Griller String Quartet, dont les membres défendirent ardemment la musique de chambre de Bloch, dans leur Royaume-Uni natal comme à l’étranger. Ces courts mouvements, fondés sur des motifs empruntés à des esquisses bien antérieures, ont été qualifiés d’«études» pour les grands quatuors à cordes nos 2–5 (composés respectivement en 1945, 1952, 1953 et 1956).

La première pièce est typique du style lyrique de Bloch. Des éléments contrapuntiques alternent avec des passages en accords et les chromatismes sont toujours conçus dans un contexte tonal ou modal. Le calme relatif du début et de la fin contraste avec la violente intensité de la portion centrale du mouvement, dont le thème principal revient au milieu de la seconde pièce, un vigoureux perpetuum mobile à 6/8. Hormis un bref répit à mi-mouvement environ, l’élan est maintenu par l’usage de notes rapidement répétées, mais aussi d’accords, d’accents et de rythmes à «deux-contre-trois». Alors que la première pièce s’achève paisiblement, dans le registre grave et dans l’ut majeur méditatif de Bloch, la seconde se termine fortissimo en tessiture aiguë, avec un passage dans les modes lydien et phrygien sur si. Contrairement à Night et à Paysages, les Two Pieces semblent n’avoir aucun dessein directement programmatique.

extrait des notes rédigées par Alexander Knapp © 2007
Français: Hyperion Records Ltd

Das erste der Two Pieces („Zwei Stücke“) für Streichquartett (Andante moderato) wurde am 7. November 1938 in Châtel, Haute-Savoie vollendet—etwa zwei Monate vor Blochs Rückkehr in die USA nach acht Jahren in Europa. Das zweite (Allegro molto) wurde nahezu zwölf Jahre später, am 4. Oktober 1950 in Agate Beach, Oregon abgeschlossen. Sie sind dem Griller-Streichquartett gewidmet, glühenden Verfechtern von Blochs Kammermusik in ihrer britischen Heimat sowie im Ausland. Diese kurzen Sätze, die auf Motiven basieren, die in wesentlich früher entstanden Skizzen erscheinen, wurden als „Studien“ für die größeren Streichquartette Nr. 2–5 beschrieben, die er jeweils 1945, 1952, 1953 und 1956 komponierte.

Das erste Stück ist für Blochs lyrischen Stil typisch. Elemente von Kontrapunkt wechseln mit akkordischen Passagen ab; und Chromatik erscheint jeweils im Kontext von Tonalität oder Modalität. Eine relativ ruhige Stimmung am Anfang und Ende kontrastiert mit der heftigen Intensität des Mittelteils dieses Satzes, dessen Hauptthema in der Mitte des zweiten Stückes, einem lebhaften Perpetuum mobile im 6/8-Takt, wiederkehrt. Abgesehen von einer kurzen Verschnaufspause etwa halbwegs wird der Impuls durch den Einsatz rapide wiederholter Noten und Akkorde, Akzente und „zwei gegen drei“-Rhythmen aufrecht erhalten. Während das erste Stück leise in tiefem Register in Blochs meditativem C-Dur schließt, endet das zweite fortissimo in hoher Lage mit einer Passage in lydischem und phrygischem Modus auf H. Anders als Night und Paysages scheinen die Two Pieces keine direkte programmatische Absicht zu haben.

aus dem Begleittext von Alexander Knapp © 2007
Deutsch: Renate Wendel

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