It has often been commented that Colin Matthews mixes styles and genres like no other and his latest string quartet, No.4, is no exception. The seven movement work (although a succinct 16 minutes) references styles as disparate as the habanera and spectral music and traces an arc form, with quick outer movements surrounding a still centre. The piece, which is dedicated to Matthews’s brother David, was premiered at the Wigmore Hall last November in a stunning performance by the Elias Quartet.
‘As in his second and third quartets Matthews incorporates various musical genres: a quasibarcarolle rhythm in the ‘Andante’, and in an absolutely original and compelling way with the pizzicato chorale sequences at the end of the ‘Esitando’ section marked ‘Solenne’. Matthews creates a wonderful tone with his ‘Menuetto spettrale’ in the ‘Allegretto’ just before the coda. It is a kind of spectrality which is both illusive, undecided, but also radiantly clear in texture... Overall I had the impression here of a wonderful range of contrasting themes ideas/styles which were contained in an incredibly economic compositional form/structure.’
Seen and Heard International (Geoff Diggines), 19 November 2012
A second performance of the quartet was given by the young Gildas Quartet at the Purcell Room in January. This formed part of a day of Park Lane Group events in which Colin Matthews was the featured composer.
‘an impressive piece launched by a gruff cello solo. If over the music’s course one might reference to Bartók, Webern (Five Movements, Opus 5) and Britten (String Quartet No.3), Colin Matthews is also his own man, and the pivotal fourth movement is particularly beautiful and hushed; transporting.’
Classical Source (Colin Anderson), 7 January 2013
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