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Classical Music Review

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String Quartets 1, 2 & 3


Composer: Eleanor Alberga
Performed by: Ensemble Arcadiana
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 14 June 2019

Musically, Eleanor Alberga has a rich, diverse background. Commissions from the BBC Proms and The Royal Opera prove that he's capable of delivering to a high standard, something she cements with her new release, String Quartets 1, 2 & 3, for Navona Records...

String Quartets 1, 2 & 3 opens with the dazzling and giddying 'String Quartet no 1', which composer Eleanor Alberga describes as being inspired by a lecture on physics and the fact that everything, including our own bodies, are essentially made of stardust. Rich and lyrical yet spellbindingly complex, the strings seem to interact with each other like comets in a celestial soundscape.

'String Quartet no 2' is, in the words of the composer, more concise and compact than the first. Its single movement span presents traditional forms embedded in a truly forward-thinking piece, bringing out Alberga’s great skills as an artist and composer.

'String Quartet no 3' takes the album in a different direction from the first two pieces, mixing tonality with 12-tone elements. Notably modern yet decidedly enjoyable to the ear (and to the performers, who described the third movement as like the “play of sunlight on water”), 'String Quartet no 3' bridges styles and evolves naturally as the piece progresses.

The album works wonderfully, not only as contrasting styles working together perfectly, but also as a showpiece for the composer's various stylistic approaches.

At times I was reminded of David Shire's work, in particular his incredibly beautiful work for Return to Oz (which is one of my all time favourite soundtracks). Yes, I know it might sound a little odd, but anyone who has heard Shire's work will instantly know that he built a lovingly crafted work of classical music.

An essential purchase for classical music collectors.


Darren Rea

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