AMN Reviews: Daedalus Quartet – George Perle String Quartets 2, 5 & 8 & Molto Adagio

Daedalus Quartet: George Perle String Quartets 2, 5 & 8 & Molto Adagio [Bridge 9398]

George Perle (1915-2009) was a composer known for developing a flexible twelve-tone method of composition that avoided the mechanistic constraints of serialism and fostered work that included expansive, often expressive harmonic relationships. Although he followed the serialist practice of composing with all twelve pitch classes, he used them in such a way as to create lyrical music that often suggested nearly-conventional key centers or modes. Thus, he described his music as “twelve-tone tonality,” or “twelve-tone modality.” With the exception of the explicitly tonal String Quartet No. 2 in D Minor of 1942—itself a highly chromatic work—the compositions on the present recording embody Perle’s highly personal version of twelve-tone music.

String Quartet No. 5, dating from 1960, is a three-movement work that alludes to sonata form. The first movement contains a recurring and varying motif centered on a descending line set to a steady quasi-andante tempo. The motif and its variations are voiced by the four instruments, most strikingly by the cello. Throughout, the piece is notable for its lyrical contour and rhythmic cohesion. The single-movement String Quartet No. 8 (1988), titled “Windows of Order,” is built up canon-like from brief motifs which serve as the starting point for the transparent counterpoint that follows. As with the fifth quartet, the eighth quartet puts all twelve pitch classes at the service of a music of great feeling as conveyed through an essentially melodic sensibility.

The hallmark of these works—including the early (1938) Molto Adagio—is their contrapuntal drive and clarity, which are brought into high relief by the Daedalus Quartet’s fine performances. Finely plotted counterpoint that conserves a sense of melody is a feature of much of Perle’s work, but here in the setting of the string quartet it’s made all the more dramatically apparent.

Very highly recommended.

Newsbits: Fanous and Hwang in Brooklyn / Shipp Reviewed / Apophonics / Rebekah Heller

Gino Robair
Gino Robair (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ayman Fanous (guitar, bouzouki) and Jason Kao Hwang (violin, viola) celebrate the release of their latest CD, Zilzal, Thursday, October 24, 8 pm, The Firehouse Space, 246 Frost Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211.

Piano Sutras by Matthew Shipp is reviewed.

John Butcher, John Edwards, and Gino Robair are the Apophonics, and they have a new CD out, and will be performing at Cafe Oto.

The latest release from Rebekah Heller is reviewed.

Upcoming Ars Nova Workshop Shows: VCDC / MOPDTK / Bushman’s Revenge / Cortex

From Philadelphia’s Ars Nova Workshop:

Ars Nova Workshop presents:

Sunday, October 27, 8pm
with Frode Gjerstad, clarinet; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Stine Janvin Motland, voice; and Ståle Liavik Solberg, drums

Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street
$15 General Admission

Ars Nova Workshop is pleased to present the Philadelphia debut of VCDC. Norwegian Gjerstad and Chicago-based Lonberg-Holm are frequent collaborators and have worked with everyone from Peter Brotzmann, Bobby Bradford and Ken Vandermark to Jim O’Rourke, Wilco and Smog. Their last album, Sugar Maple, together with Chicago drummer Michael Zerang, was released in 2010 on the FMR Record label.

Saturday, November 9, 8pm
Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street
$15 General Admission

Tuesday, December 3, 8pm
The Rotunda, 4014 Walnut Street
Free Admission