Thursday, December 04, 2014

Tippitt Quartet Plays Music of Two Polish Masters

Andrzej Panufnik: String Quartets Nos. 1-3; Witold Lutoslawski: String Quartet
Tippett Quartet

The Tippet Quartet is a young ensemble that continues to explore the under-recorded portions of the string quartet repertoire. I enjoyed their Naxos recording of Miklos Rozsa's music, and I enjoyed this release -- albeit for different reasons.

On paper, Andrzej Panufnik and Witold Lutoslawski may seem like a good match. Both composers are from Poland, both were active around the same time, and both are recognized internationally for the quality of their music.

But there are significant differences between the two. Lutoslawski's string quartet from 1964 sound far more "modern" and avant-garde the Panufnik's quartets written far later. Lutoslawski's quartet incorporates aggressive dissonances and extended string techniques to create a n atmosphere of stormy unrest. By contrast, Panufnik seems more concerned about developing simple motifs that are inherently tonal. And while that tonality is often obscured, it never totally goes away.

The Tippett Quartet seems equally at at home with both composers. They perform the Lutoslawski with steely resolve and a machine-like precision that the music demands. In the Panufnik quartets, the quartet seems to be playing in a more relaxed fashion, with a much warmer ensemble sound.

It's an interesting program, and one that the Tippett Quartet successfully pulls off.

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