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Stephen J. Nereffid
Music is Good, January 2016

Favourite classical albums of 2015 #30

New Zealand’s best-known composer, Lilburn would have been 100 in 2015 (he died 14 years ago). Vaughan Williams was his composition tutor when he studied in London, and I think it’s fair to say that if you enjoy VW you’ll probably like these pieces from the 1940s and 50s. As an introduction to an unknown composer, this is superb. © 2016 Music is Good



David W. Moore
American Record Guide, July 2015

The New Zealand players are a lovely group with sensitivity and warmth of tone. The recording is beautifully balanced and natural in sound. © 2015 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide



Jim Svejda
Fanfare, July 2015

With evident pride and affection, the New Zealand String Quartet play this music as perhaps no other string quartet possibly can, while the recorded sound [is] superb. © 2015 Fanfare Read complete review




David Vernier
ClassicsToday.com, May 2015

…this superbly performed and sensitively recorded effort is another feather in the cap of this ensemble, which never fails to impress whether in concert or on disc. Highly recommended… © 2015 ClassicsToday.com Read complete review



Gary Higginson
MusicWeb International, April 2015

This is an attractive disc which throws further light onto a really interesting and significant figure of twentieth century music, but one who has still to emerge from the shadows. Not to be overlooked. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Julian Haylock
BBC Music Magazine, April 2015

Atmospherically recorded and devotedly played, New Zealander Douglas Lilburn’s ravishing, post-Vaughan Williams/Copland string chamber music is idiomatically scored and unendingly lyrical. © 2015 BBC Music Magazine




Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, March 2015

The New Zealand Quartet members really make this music come alive. Their ability to shape Lilburn’s gorgeous lyrical ideas while also getting at the dramatic undercurrents in the music make the case for each of these pieces as important chamber pieces of the 20th Century. Certainly the quartet, trio, and the duos are worthy of greater awareness and the rest of the program is simply icing on a luxurious cake. Highly recommended… © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review



Nick Barnard
MusicWeb International, March 2015

Throughout it is clear that Lilburn has a real mastery of part-writing and voicing. His work for strings is consistently effective and he achieves the tricky balance of creating a unified sound in which it is always possible to discern the individual instrumental voices.

[The Duos for 2 Violins of 1954 is] the most impressive of all. Violinists Helene Pohl and Douglas Beilman give the work a thoroughly compelling performance. Although not highly virtuosic there are still enough demands to require skilful playing—which it receives here allied to a well-judged tonal and expressive range.

Reliable engineering and production together with a good playing time completes a fine package…all of the music is well worth hearing especially in performances as convincing as these. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Joseph Newsome
Voix des Arts, February 2015

RIES, F.: Violin Sonatas, Op. 8, Nos. 1-2 and Op. 19 (Grossman, S. Kagan) 8.573193
STANFORD, C.V.: Piano Trio No.2 / Piano Quartet No.1 (Gould Piano Trio, Adams) 8.573388
LILBURN, D.: String Quartet in E Minor / Phantasy / Canzonettas / Duos / String Trio (New Zealand String Quartet) 8.573079

With three superb discs featuring chamber music by Ferdinand Ries, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and Douglas Lilburn, the indefatigably insightful Naxos label directs listeners’ attention into unfamiliar but richly rewarding niches of chamber music repertory. Spanning nearly a century and a half of musical evolution, these discs explore both the ways in which the sentimental immediacy of chamber music has consistently inspired composers and the infinitely diverse textures they have coaxed from combinations of finite groups of instruments.

Stylistically, the chamber works of Ferdinand Ries, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford, and Douglas Lilburn are worlds apart, but these three exemplary Naxos recordings again remind listeners that music has the peculiar ability to unite composers, musicians, and audiences of all eras and generations. Ries could not surpass his teacher, Stanford was upstaged by his students, and Lilburn has not yet managed to completely overcome nationalistically-motivated skepticism, but the performances on these discs make no excuses for the trio of forsaken composers and their music: every artist involved, both musical and technical, approaches these works merely as well-crafted music that deserves to be heard. Indeed, these are discs that deserve to be heard often. © 2015 Voix des Arts Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, February 2015

This year we celebrate the centenary of the birth of the New Zealand composer, Douglas Lilburn, whose mature education came as a pupil of Vaughan Williams. Though he returned to his spiritual home that he so loved, he would surely have musically achieved more international acclaim had he remained in London, his worldwide reputation residing in not much more than a handful of discs. So this anniversary issue, which mainly covers works written in the 1940’s and 50’s, is extremely welcome. It does include the word premiere recording of the Phantasy Quartet composed in 1939 while a student at the Royal Academy of Music, and does show the influence of his mentor in its hymnal mode. After its first performances in London and New Zealand it was largely forgotten. Six years later came the String Trio, by which time he had moved to a very personal view of tonality. Vaughan Williams does briefly turn up in the little march section of the opening movement, the work closing with a very happy Allegro. The following year the String Quartet has made another stylistic leap, the music remaining tonal but harmonies had at times become crunchy. By the time we reach the six Duos for 2 violins from 1954, we hear Bartók in the background, and that includes music in the form of folk dance. For much of this period he had written, at different times, the three Canzonettas scored for violin and viola, a sombre melody setting the scene for the two outer ones with a more happy one separating them. The New Zealand Quartet play with dedication and much technical accomplishment, while Naxos’s Canadian recording team ensure outstanding sound quality. © 2015 David’s Review Corner





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