Danish Quartet

Ib Nørholm: String Quartets Nos. 3, 4, 7 & 8

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Rich in textures, varied in devices, mutable in expressions, and surprisingly coherent, despite their eclectic rhetoric, the string quartets of Ib Nørholm are more traditionally oriented than their avant-garde surfaces might suggest. As early as 1966, when Nørholm composed his Quartet No. 3, Op. 35, and the Quartet No. 4, Op. 38, he seems to have adopted an intuitive approach to the medium, eschewing rigid systems for a freely expressive language, which admits many tonal references and harmonies, and gives the listener something familiar to grasp. Nørholm's music lies well on the strings and is voiced to capitalize on the medium's special qualities, not as dry, theoretical notions or randomly assigned gestures. By the mid-'80s, when many composers adopted more conservative styles, Nørholm's music seems not to have changed much; except for his perceptibly smoother development in the Quartet No. 7, Op. 94, and a greater thematic unity in the Quartet No. 8, Op. 107, Nørholm's language remained virtually unmodified. As a result, his music seems quite consistent from decade to decade, and not subject to fads or fashions. The Danish Quartet recorded these four works in 1989-1990, under the supervision of the composer, so these may be called authoritative performances. Kontrapunkt's sound quality is fine.

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