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Mcewen: String Quartets, Vol. 2
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Mcewen: String Quartets, Vol. 2

1 Jun. 2003 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Jun. 2003
  • Release Date: 1 Jun. 2003
  • Label: Chandos
  • Copyright: (C) 2003 Chandos
  • Total Length: 58:32
  • Genres:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 374,541 in Albums (See Top 100 in Albums)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Colin W on 27 Dec. 2013
Format: MP3 Download Verified Purchase
McEwen's string quartets are excellent pieces and the Chilingirian Quartet are doing music lovers a big favour by recording so many of them. McEwen was active in the last decade of the 19th century and the first third of the 20th century. His quartets are not big lush romantic works nor are they difficult modernist pieces. They are real chamber music, intimate and conversational in the tradition of Haydn and in a style which has the sophistication of Ravel. He also occasionally uses Scottish elements but always avoiding the twee and obvious.
The 3rd quartet in E minor is not tragic or sad. The opening movement is contemplative and wistful alternating with a faster, almost cheerful section leading to a tremolando climax. This is followed by a stoic allegretto which becomes more lyrical. The final allegro has a marked opening theme with a rhythmic Scottish sounding second subject leading to a presto coda.
The 6th quartet (Biscay) is a bright fresh work reminding me of Ravel but without being an imitation. Each movement has a French title. The 3rd and last movement, for example, is called "Les Dunes" and is very atmospheric with a gently throbbing accompaniment and a misty feel to it.
The 13th quartet in C minor has an austere and questing first movement with a very richly scored ending. The succeeding Allegro Vivace is restless with an effective use of an ostinato motif. The slow movement is austere and lyrical, building to an intense climax. The finale alternates a fast opening section accompanied by pizzicatos with slower sections.
Altogether a fascinating and rewarding disc beautifully played by the Chilingirian Quartet. I will return to this music many times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By P. Edwin on 22 Dec. 2008
Format: Audio CD
I couldn't agree more with the review already posted. McEwen's music is immediately appealing, very well crafted and shamefully neglected. Thank you, Chandos, for at least trying to promote this wonderful music.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
quiet pieces convey the feelings of Scotland 19 Jan. 2010
By rash67 - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ah Scotland! The Highlands, lonely, misty, brooding. Hills covered with heather and bracken. Not enough nutrients in the sparse soil for trees. Firths with mists of the sea.

John Blackwood McEwen composed nature sketches in that late romantic and impressionist period before the world was shattered by WWI, the Great War. After the war there was little interest in music with this beauty.

My favorite McEwen pieces, by far, are the orchestral ones on the Chandos album with "The Solway Symphony", "Hills o' Heather" and "Where the Wild Thyme Blows". Parts of these string quartets, especially the second movement to Quartet #6 really remind me of the Highlands and those nature sketches. The Chilingirian Quartet does a convincing job conveying feelings of Scottish isolation found in the hills and quiet places. In places the quartet sound mimics distant bagpipes.

When not conveying the impression of hills and the sea, the music seems to describe small towns, people and folk tunes.
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