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Britten/Purcell and David Matthews CDs reviewed

NORMAN STINCHCOMBE REVELS IN NEW BRITTEN AND DAVID MATTHEWS RECORDINGS


BRITTEN / PURCELL: Doric Quartet (Chandos 2CDs CHAN 20124-2) ★★★★★

Britten's three string quartets are just too long to squeeze onto a single CD so here a second disc accommodates the composer's youthful Three Divertimenti. It can only have been musical snobbery that produced the scathing response at their premiere in 1936; the Dorics bring out their charm and insouciance quite engagingly. They also include three Fantasias in Four Parts by Purcell whose music influenced Britten. His Second Quartet marked the 250th anniversary of Purcell's birth, while the Third Quartet's finale used the passacaglia form integral to the 17th century composer's music. The Doric Quartet's playing is superb throughout whether conveying the tender melancholy of the First Quartet's Andante calmo, with expressive playing from first violin Alex Redington, to the often acerbic and thorny Third Quartet. The playin…

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