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Robert Matthew-Walker
International Record Review, January 2012

This is highly recommended disc, a fine introduction to the composer at the outset of his career and as he approached his final masterpieces. The pianist is the admirable Peter Donohoe and Maggini’s account of A minor Quartet is one of the finest I have ever heard… © 2012 International Record Review




Penguin Guide, January 2009

The young players of the Maggini Quartet—who earlier recorded Elgar Naxos—give performances both refined and powerful of both works. The opening of the 1947 String Quartet is presented in hushed intimacy, making the contrast all the greater when Walton’s richly lyrical writing emerges in full power. There is a tender, wistful quality here, which culminates in a rapt, intense account of the slow movement, with the world of late Beethoven much closer the most interpreters have appreciated. The poignancy of those two longer movements is then set against the clean bite of the second movement Scherzo and the brief hectic finale, with textures clear and transparent. With Peter Donohoe a powerful, incisive pianist, the early Piano Quartet is also given a performance of high contrasts. The echoes of Stravinsky’s Petruska are colourfully brought out in the finale, a movement that looks forward more clearly than the rest to the mature Walton, even though the pentatonic writing in the earlier movements is here most persuasively presented. First-rate recording, even if the piano is a shade too forwardly balanced.



Helen Wallace
BBC Music Magazine, August 2000

Performance:
Sound:

"There are only ahandful of recordings in the catalogue, and the Maggini's performance is hugely persuasive. Its view of the work is salt-fresh, and it makes it sound so enjoyable to play. Violist Martin Outram brings a specially intense quality to the Lento-listen to his beautifully phrased second subject-and balance and ensemble are fine-tuned. The group explodes into the Presto, with just the right level of attack and pungency of sound-a quality it brings to the jazzy riffs of the Piano Quartet's Allegro molto too.

"If the 1947 Quartet has vague echoes of Ravel reaching us via Vaughan Williams, then they are clearer in the earlier Piano quartet (1921). The Maggini swings through its fluid narrative with febrile energy."



Edward Greenfield
Gramophone, July 2000

"This disc of chamber music provides a splendid follow-up to the fine orchestral recordings already included in Naxos's Walton series. The young players of the Maggini Quartet—who earlier recorded Britten, Elgar and Moeran for Naxos—give refined and powerful performances of both works. The opening of the 1947 String Quartet is presented in hushed intimacy, making the contrast all the greater when Walton's richly lyrical writing emerges in full power. There is a tender, wistful quality here, which culminates in a rapt, intense account of the slow movement, where the world of late Beethoven comes much closer than most interpreters have appreciated. The poignancy of these two movements is then set against the clean bite of the second movement Scherzo and the brief hectic finale, with their clear and transparent textures. This is a fine a version as any—and like other in the series a splendid bargain, beautifully recorded.

"With Peter Donohoe a powerful and incisive presence, and the Maggini Quartet again playing most persuasively, the early Piano quartet—an astonishing achievement for a teenage composer—is also given a performance of high contrasts, enhanced by a refined recording which conveys genuine pianissimos that are free from highlighting. If, in the first three movements, the pentatonic writing gives little idea of the mature Walton to come, some characteristic rhythmic and other devices are already apparent. Even the penatonicry suggests that the boy had been looking at the Howells Piano Quartet rather than any Vaughan Williams. It is in the finale that one gets the strongest Waltonian flavour in vigorously purposeful argument, though there the echoes are different, and Stravinsky's Petrushka is an obvious influence."



Paul Driver
, June 2000

"William Walton produced rather little chamber music, but here are two fine examples. The D minor Piano Quartet (1921) is a sturdily inventive if ultimately derivative work, prophetic of his mature style in the splenetic rhythms of its scherzo and finale, but with uncharacteristic leanings both to French harmony and the English-mystical tradition. This reading has a keenness and gusto, however, that are very persuasive. The string quartet, the composer's second, is a masterpiece. Completed in 1947, it inhabits the same world of melancholy and rhythmic toughness as the First Symphony, and attests to the same knack of infusing extremely solid craftsmanship with extremely vivid life. This beautiful performance brings out particularly well that 'northern' wistfulness, dominant in the lento, that is uniquely Walton's."



Gilbert French
American Record Guide

"Just try the fugue in I-superbly voiced, with each line shaped in a taut, deeply expressive style, building to a powerful climax, after which the tension just seems to drain away while the pulse keeps it musically alive. They also capture those Walton rhythms, so ripely on display especially in II (the scherzo), sometimes with long-held phrases, other times with short clipped 1/8 and 1/16 notes that kick. III is a lesson in how to sustain not just an adagio a but lento, enhanced with slight portamentos, lingering passion, and in one transition the most stratospherically glorious first violin I've heard in quite a while. The Maggini make you listen to each of Walton's brilliantly written four lines of music in an integrated way. Above all, their sense of ensemble-indeed, their very breathing-is so unanimous that it's the very heart of this incredible music-making.





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