Lark Quartet

A Farewell Celebration

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This release, the swan song from New York's Lark Quartet, offers no bravura grand finale. Instead, it continues with the artistic values that have informed the group's work since its founding in the mid-1980s, through several changes in personnel. The Lark Quartet has emphasized contemporary American music and has built relationships over the years with specific composers, from whom the group has commissioned new works. All the music here is new, and all of it was apparently composed for the Lark Quartet. The composers take Bartókian string quartet textures as a starting point but then go in different directions with the idea, and the program is both coherent and lively. The prestige name is John Harbison, whose String Quartet No. 6, given its premiere in 2016 at a concert marking the composer's 80th birthday, is given a fine, taut performance. Perhaps the biggest find here is Anna Weesner's The Eight Lost Songs of Orlando Underground; start with the delightful booklet note from the composer and proceed to sample this work, paying particular attention to the at once spectral and playful presence of clarinetist Romie de Guise-Langlois. Andrew Waggoner's Ce morceau de tissu for double quartet is marked by the presence of the Lark Quartet's original members, and it is an effective summing-up indeed. A small milestone in the history of American chamber music.

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