No one can deny that Vincent Persichetti was one of the most significant figures of modern American music, yet judged on the relative scarcity of recordings of his works since his death in 1987, he may be on the verge of becoming an unjustly neglected composer. The four string quartets that Persichetti composed between 1939 and 1972 are woefully under performed, and this 2006 release from Centaur stands alone, much to the embarrassment of other labels that have not yet touched this fine material. Thankfully, the Lydian String Quartet is completely sympathetic to this overlooked quartet cycle and fully capable of traversing its many flavors, moods, and styles: from the youthful imitations of Bartók's Hungarian folk idioms in the String Quartet No. 1, Op. 7 (1939), to the more indigenous inflections of Americana in the String Quartet No. 2, Op. 24 (1944); and through the rather austere meditations of the twelve-tone based String Quartet No. 3, Op. 81 (1959), to the intricately contrapuntal String Quartet No. 4, Op. 122, "Parable X" (1972), the range of Persichetti's mutable expressions, extended techniques, and highly adaptable musical language is displayed. The listener may find that one or another of these pieces may appeal more than the rest; because Persichetti was so varied in his output, there is usually something there to attract, and the quartets are no less eclectic than the rest of his output. However, the level of quality is consistent in these quartets, and though moods or methods may change dramatically from piece to piece, the evenness of tone and seriousness of attitude bespeak Persichetti's thoroughgoing craftsmanship and integrity. The Lydian String Quartet's addition to Persichetti's catalog is an important contribution, and this excellent CD should be noted by all major string quartets and their recording companies with envy. Centaur's reproduction is first-rate, so everything is clearly audible and vibrant in the resonant auditorium setting.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|String Quartet No. 1, Op. 7|
|String Quartet No. 2, Op. 24|