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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Dag Wiren, String Quartets Nos. 2-5, Wiren Quartet

Who was Dag Wiren (1905-1986)?

A composer is the obvious answer. He wrote String Quartets Nos 2-5  (Naxos 8.573588). We know that because it is the name of the CD I have in front of me right now. It's played by the Wiren Quartet, and they do a fine job of it. The four quartets are relatively short, so that you can fit them on one CD. They were written between 1935 (No. 2) and 1970 (No. 5) so they span a pretty long period of time.

The quartets are thematically diverse, Modernist, handled sophisticatedly in a manner halfway between maybe Hindemith and Bartok, so you feel a structural logic in the playing out of motives and their development and succession. There is apparent growth from quartet to quartet yet each has its own architectonic heft.

The jacket blurb informs us that Quartet no. 1 was withdrawn, so that these are in fact the complete output. The notes tell us that the last is more pessimistic to the relative cheer of the earlier works. That may be but in my listening they all flow together into a kind of mega-monster entity.

These are very good to hear, quite well played. They make me want to know Dag Wiren the composer better! Highly recommended.

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