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Korngold String Quartets

Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897–1957) wrote a number of important chamber works (with and without piano) over a period of some 35 years. His First String Quartet, completed in 1923, premiered the following year; its subsequent performance at the Vienna Incorporated Society of Contemporary Music Festival in 1925 reinforced Korngold’s standing as a major contemporary figure. A decade passed before Korngold composed its successor, a work of relative harmonic clarity. Following a period devoted almost exclusively to writing film scores, he returned to abstract composition at the end of the Second World War. The works from this period include his Third String Quartet, which premiered in Los Angeles in 1946.


Erich Wolfgang Korngold wrote a significant body of chamber music (the Piano Trio and String Sextet are on Naxos 8.574008). His three String Quartets reflect differing periods of composition. The First marries impetuousness with enticing harmonies and rapt eloquence. The Second, which dates from 1933, is notable for its clarity, rhythmic impetus and melodic directness. The post-war Third is more relaxed, unexpectedly juxtaposing the archaic and modern with a joyful conclusion.

Listen to an extract from String Quartet No. 3:
I. Allegro –
About the Artists

The Tippett Quartet have performed and broadcast throughout the UK, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and their diverse repertoire highlights the ensemble’s unique versatility. They have an impressive catalogue of recordings and have given numerous world and UK premieres. Their recording of the Penderecki Quartets (8.574288) was described as ‘life-enhancing’ by The Times, and they were awarded Gramophone magazine’s Recording of the Month for their recording of Górecki’s String Quartet No. 3 (8.574110). Their latest release of the complete Korngold string quartets marks the ensemble's 25th anniversary.

From left to right: John Mills, Jeremy Isaac, Bozidar Vukotic and Lydia Lowndes-Northcott

More recordings featuring the Tippett Quartet
‘A triumphant Penderecki set from the Tippetts … This journey through the composer’s chamber works is performed with radiant assurance.’
BBC Music Magazine
‘This is a recording deserving of the very highest recommendation.’
‘Britain’s Tippett Quartet delivers slashing, kinetic performances that showcase these underrated pieces ideally.’ ★★★★
‘I can’t imagine the Bax receiving a more passionate, devoted performance and this disc has made me rethink my view of his music. An equally impressive account of the Bridge.’
Classic FM ★★★★

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