American composer Matthew Quayle is also an educator, teaching at the branch of New York University in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Arabic music is seemingly one of the few styles not referenced in his 13-movement String Quartet No. 3 of 2016, which includes touches of Baroque opera, a direct quotation of the theme of the "Chaconne" from Bach's Partita No. 2 for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1004, rock music in several different ways, Viennese waltzes, Lutheran chorales, 12-tone music, television sitcom themes, and even bluegrass. It's a virtuoso piece of work that does not come across as a blank pastiche but hangs together for reasons that the listener is invited to discover. Quayle, in his own notes, says that "the experience of brief emotional commitment followed by dislocation, so commonplace in our current media experience, is reflected in the erratic musical trajectory of this piece." He also provides personal emotional programs for the first two string quartets, but like that of the third, the music can also be understood in abstract ways. The String Quartet No. 1, in the traditional four movements, takes Bartók as its point of departure. The String Quartet No. 2 sets tonal music against 12-tone passages and other devices. Quayle's use of the 12-tone system as a point of temporary organization rather than as a thorough system is notable. The Avalon String Quartet, which has wide experience in performing contemporary American chamber music, turns in committed, clean readings. Recommended, especially the String Quartet No. 3, for those interested in contemporary string quartet developments.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|String Quartet No. 1|
|String Quartet No. 3|