Though during his life he was active and successful in musical fields from pedagogy to performance to composition, Donald Francis Tovey is little remembered for any of his accomplishments today. He was close friends with violinist Joseph Joachim, a fact that doubtless influenced his able hand at writing for strings. This Guild album presents his Aria and Variations in B flat major, Op. 11, and the G major String Quartet, Op. 23, performed by the Tippett Quartet. While not as completely satisfying or memorable as quartets written by some of his contemporaries, Tovey's quartet is still an enjoyable, worthwhile composition written solidly in the Romantic tradition, shunning stylistic trends introduced by Schoenberg and the like. The Tippett Quartet does an admirable job of drawing out the interesting melodies and pleasing harmonies that Tovey offers. Technically skilled, generally well in tune, and possessing a rich, warm sound, Tippett's performance is engaging. The album's only drawback is sound quality. Recorded in a church, the group's sound is regrettably too boomy and unfocused and too much reverb is left in the final product. Still, listeners unfamiliar with Tovey's works may still find this disc an interesting introduction to a frequently overlooked composer.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|String Quartet in G major, Op. 23|