RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR
‘Górecki alternates material of totally transparent simplicity and moments of what sounds like barely suppressed fury’
Ivan Moody finds the Tippett Quartet’s searching account of Górecki’s Third String Quartet deeply moving and especially resonant in uncertain times
Górecki ‘Complete String Quartets, Vol 2’ Sonata for Two Violins, Op 10a. String Quartet No 3, ‘… songs are sung’, Op 67b b Tippett Quartet (aJohn Mills, aJeremy Isaac vns Lydia Lowndes-Northcott va Bozidar Vukotic vc) Naxos B 8 574110 (75’ • DDD)
Górecki’s series of string quartets, written over a relatively short span of time (the first dates from 1988) are absolutely fundamental to understanding his work. They are concentrated, visceral, profound considerations of the beautiful and the violent. And if that sounds like a description of his output in general, it applies doubly to these works, unique as they are in contemporary music. Recording them is, accordingly, not something to be undertaken lightly, and the Tippett Quartet’s traversal – this is the second of two discs – give us what is, I believe, the most eloquent version yet.
Indeed, anyone who was as staggered by the Tippett Quartet’s first volume of Górecki as I was (1/19) will have been waiting with baited breath for this. It is every bit as good as the first disc, with the added surprise of the Sonata for two violins, an early work, dating from 1957. I’d never really given it much consideration before, but this recording has made me see it in a completely different light and, in spite of the clear influence of Bartók, as being intimately connected with Górecki’s language in the three string quartets. They are all there in embryo, so to speak – the astounding outbursts of manic violence, the sonic collisions, the extraordinary sense of
14 GRAMOPHONE RECORDINGS OF THE YEAR 2020
calm. This is a major work, coming in at just under 18 minutes, and it is played with consummate mastery by the two violinists of the Tippett Quartet, John Mills and Jeremy Isaac.
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G E R R Y
As for the String Quartet No 3, I would say that the Tippett Quartet’s recording outdoes both that by the Kronos, for whom the work was written, and that by the Royal, fine PH O T O G R A P H Y