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Thursday, July 30, 2020

Jonathan Leshnoff, String Quartets Nos. 3 & 4, Four Dances, Carpe Diem String Quartet

American Modern Tonal stylist Jonathan Leshnoff (b. 1973) appears before us with the fine Carpe Diem String Quartet playing his String Quartet No. 3, String Quartet No. 4 and Four Dances (MSR Classics MS1765). Leshnoff I was happy to come across on a volume of his orchestral work by the Nashville Symphony under the direction of Roberto Guerrero on July 12 of last year (see chronological index for that post).

These string quartet works are, understandably, more intimate and perhaps more contemplative and absorbed than the more extroverted orchestral works on the Nashville disk. There is something decidedly Eastern European sounding about much of this--a sort of post-Bartokian, maybe post-Shoskatovichian cast, decidedly Modern enough and motor-sensory at times in its dynamic forward drive. Quartet No 3's finale is a case in point, quite exciting to hear as performed on this program by the Carpe Diem unit. Or check out the second movement of Quartet No. 4 for another kinetic explosion of high interest. Naturally there are contrasting expressions that spell the pace nicely, for example in  the third movement of Quartet No. 4.

It is all rather deep in the tradition of the string quartet's post-Beethoven history of increased reflectivity. In that way Leshnoff  updates that depth with some originality and great musical intelligence. Rather ravishing music, in an excellent reading. Highly recommended.

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