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We highlight five of our November releases of 20th-century music that feature performances of great music by small ensembles. Included in the programmes are no fewer than thirteen world premiere recordings, each release presenting the distinct musical styles of composers based in Greece, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

Mario CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO (1895–1968)
Violin Concerto No. 3 1
String Trio 2 • Sonata for Violin and Cello 3

Davide Alogna, Violin • Federico Stassi, Viola 2
Roberto Trainini, Cello 2,3 • Fiorenzo Pascalucci, Piano 1

The three previously unpublished and unrecorded chamber works in this programme were all written after Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s enforced move to the United States from his native Italy. Evoking the emotional day on which the composer sailed into New York for the first time, the Third Violin Concerto was composed for Jascha Heifetz specifically as a duo for violin and piano. Established as a highly regarded teacher and composer of film music, Castelnuovo-Tedesco rediscovered the joy of chamber-music making as part of the Hollywood musical community. He considered the Sonata for Violin and Cello, Op. 148 his finest in this genre, while the String Trio, Op. 147 recalls the shores of the Mediterranean.

Listen to an extract from String Trio Op. 147:
III. Vivace (Ritmico e balzante)
Greek Wind Quintets
ANTONIOU • BALTAS • CONSTANTINIDIS
KALOGEROPOULOS • KOUMENDAKIS • MAKRIS • PONIRIDIS

Aeolos Woodwind Quintet

Musical life in Greece draws on a legacy that has as much richness and depth as the nation’s long and complex history. The vibrant and colourful works on this recording, while representing the country’s lively contemporary music scene, make use of traditional melodies and rhythms combined with wider stylistic influences. This unique programme of premiere recordings includes works dedicated to the Aeolos Woodwind Quintet.

Listen to an extract from Baltas' Little Suite:
II. Molto allegro
Graciela JIMÉNEZ (b. 1965)
Works for Solo Piano
Works for Piano and Cello

Matías Villafañe, Cello • Dora De Marinis, Piano

Argentinian pianist, teacher and composer, Graciela Jiménez, continues to be inspired by the landscape and folk melodies of her native country. They infuse her piano music with evocative imagery whether in the colourful fantasia of En los ojos de las llamas, the aphoristic, dreamlike Tres piezas para piano or in the virtuosic dance rhythms of En la Quebrada de Humahuaca which evoke the music of her great predecessor, Alberto Ginastera. Her poetic, impressionist and jazz-inflected La luz de enero is an adaptation for cello and piano of her song cycle, music of exceptional and luminous beauty.

Listen to an extract from 3 Pieces for Piano:
No. 2 Caminos del espejo
Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI (1933–2010)
String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2
Genesis I: Elementi

Tippett Quartet

With the belated success of his Third Symphony ‘Symphony of Sorrowful Songs’ (Naxos 8.550822), Górecki emerged in the 1990s as a composer of world stature. Between 1988 and 1995 he wrote three string quartets for the Kronos Quartet that are among his most important mature works. String Quartet No. 1 reveals chorale-like themes, so much a feature of his later writing, as well as hectic, dance-like motion, while the Second Quartet’s wider range of expression explicitly evokes Beethoven. Genesis I: Elementi offers a powerful contrast – a string trio from 1962 of uncompromising immediacy.

Listen to an extract from String Quartet No. 2:
IV. Allegro
Dag WIRÉN (1905–1986)
String Quartets Nos. 2–5

Wirén Quartet

The tapestry of drama, refinement and expressive lyricism in Dag Wirén’s four string quartets (the First Quartet was withdrawn) provides a substantial overview of his musical evolution over 35 years. His earlier works are more accessible than challenging, as demonstrated by the relaxed and affirmative Second and Third Quartets. The Fourth Quartet is more sombre, with nods towards Sibelius and Shostakovich, and in the Fifth, completed not long before Wirén’s retirement as a composer, the easy confidence of the earlier quartets has been replaced by a mood of pessimism and uncertainty.

Listen to an extract from String Quartet No. 2:
II. Scherzo


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