Album: Glass, Complete String Quartets – The Smith Quartet (Signum)

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The Independent Culture

The Smith Quartet's finely shaded double-disc survey of Philip Glass' Quartets is an elegant rebuke to those of us who just don't "get" Glass.

Quartet No 1 (1966) marked the young composer's rejection of the Parisian avant garde, yet its austere, lyrical beauty owes as much to his teacher Nadia Boulanger as it does to its inspiration, Indian classical music. On the same disc, Quartet No 5 (1991) is a world away in its confident orchestral gestures and broad, ringing tones. On the other disc, Quartets 2, 3 and 4 merge kaleidoscopically despite the performers' valiant attempts to inject variety.

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