Classical CD review

Vanbrugh Quartet | Towards the Far Country (Black Box)
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The Independent Culture

Belfast-born composer Ian Wilson has shunned the world music trend in his three rigidly serious string quartets. No "Oirishness" here; Wilson points to Paul Klee and Giacometti as his inspirations, and his clearest debt is to 20th-century France. That much of the music sounds like Ravel in a bad mood does not detract from his assured technique. He understands the instruments and writes gratefully, if demandingly, for strings. The Vanbrugh Quartet sometimes subside into a catch-all expressivity (digging in hard with their bows and pushing a slightly hysterical vibrato) that doesn't express much beyond the fact that they're a quartet being expressive, but the disc is impressive, and beautifully recorded.

Belfast-born composer Ian Wilson has shunned the world music trend in his three rigidly serious string quartets. No "Oirishness" here; Wilson points to Paul Klee and Giacometti as his inspirations, and his clearest debt is to 20th-century France. That much of the music sounds like Ravel in a bad mood does not detract from his assured technique. He understands the instruments and writes gratefully, if demandingly, for strings. The Vanbrugh Quartet sometimes subside into a catch-all expressivity (digging in hard with their bows and pushing a slightly hysterical vibrato) that doesn't express much beyond the fact that they're a quartet being expressive, but the disc is impressive, and beautifully recorded.

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