Album: JACK Quartet, Ligeti, Pintscher, Cage, Xenakis (Wigmore Hall Lve)

 

New York's JACK Quartet perform with fire and ice on this programme of modernist pieces, operating at the furthest extremes of the dynamic range: virtually inaudible for the sparse scurryings of Matthias Pintscher's Cy Twombly-inspired "Study IV for Treatise on the Veil", furiously brutal for the mass bowing and creaking noises of Xenakis's "Tetras".

There's an unexpected Renaissance flavour to Cage's "String Quartet in Four Parts"; but the standout work is Ligeti's towering "String Quartet No 2", whose brooding, hysterical manner is indicated by directions like "nervoso", "meccanismo" and "tumultuoso". Its startling progress – like handling an unstable isotope – seems perfectly suited to the JACK Quartet's visceral, pyrotechnic virtuosity.

Download: String Quartet No 2; String Quartet in Four Parts; Tetras

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