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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Gyorgy Kurtag, Six moments musicaux, Officium breve, Antonin Dvorak, String Quintet, Parker Quartet, Kim Kashkashian


Some of the best recordings in the New Music world combine brilliant compositions with special performances, vivid readings. Such things are in store for you on the recent CD by the Parker Quartet and Kim Kashkashian on viola, performing Gyorgy Kurtag's "Offiicium breve" and "Six moments musicaux" along with Dvorak's "String Quintet, op. 97" (ECM New Series 2649).

The wonderfully Bohemian Dvorak "Sextet" as a great deal of sublime energy and the performance here has all the brio you might hope for, along with the lyric articulateness Dvorak often expects of a performance. This is a wonderful work and it never sounded better than here! If this was the lone item on this CD it would be a happy (if short) thing. But of course we get much more, two nicely contrasting High Modern forays by Gyorgy Kurtag, a composer to savor all the more as one hears his opus bit-by-bit.

His "Officium breve"" has deeply moodful ruminations that stand out as strikingly fashioned the more one listens. Like Berg before him, he can be on the cutting-edge as he is here, yet also extraordinarily expressive of mood and feeling. The all-but-hushed unfoldings give one a kind of eerie spaciousness, a feeling of journeying to a rare place of beauty and strangitude combined.

Kurtag's "Six moments musicaux" have more abstract expressive edges to them. They are in fact Modern with a capital /M/. You feel his mastery and complex forward momentum. This one doubtless is possibly one of the unsung high points in the chamber music of our times. In the very least it is essential listening, a sterling performance of a special work.

The Parker Quartet with Kashkashian seize the day and shine with luminescence and musicality. This is a triumph, and one of the finest chamber music releases of the year. Be sure and check it out if you can. Bravo.