Andrew Clements
The Guardian
August 2007

There's no connection between the five recent works on this superbly played disc, other than the British affiliations of all the composers involved—US-born Stephen Montague has surely been based here long enough now to qualify as part of the British new-music establishment. Three of the pieces involve electronics. In Michael Alcorn's The old woman of beare, they provide one layer in an amalgam that also involves a narrator reading a ninth-century Irish poem. In Gavin Bryars' The sinking of the Titanic (which the Smith Quartet play in a shortened version, made specially for them), the electronics add documentary detail to this still strangely affecting collage. And Tim Souster's Hambledon Hill is a dialogue between the live quartet and its recorded and transformed image. If Souster's piece is a reminder of a talented composer who died far too young, then Montague's First Quartet is a memorial of another kind, written explicitly to honour two of his composer friends and driving itself to a ferocious, angry climax.