The Brodsky Quartet

Jorge Grundman: God's Sketches

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Krzysztof Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima was originally titled 8'37", and a favorite parlor game is to guess what kind of renown it would have had if it had retained that title. Penderecki's work was clearly novel (the string writing is distinctive from the start), but the same can't be said of the two compositions here by Spanish composer Jorge Grundman, both of which have emotionally loaded programs. The string quartet Surviving a Son's Suicide refers to imagined experiences and memories, not those of the composer himself. God's Sketches for string quartet, soprano, and mallets, with an English text by the composer himself, has a firmer grounding; Grundman has had contact with autistic and Down's syndrome children and here imagines a possible development in their later lives. The question is whether the music reflects this material in any sort of creatively compelled way. Listeners must reach their own conclusions about this, but the loosely episodic music, in generic late Romantic tonalities, does not make a clear case. God's Sketches, with its fusion of string quartet and operatic scene, is the stronger work of the two, and the Super Audio recording by the Non Profit Music label, which does an admirable job of presenting new music, is a major plus for audiophiles.

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