John McCabe (1939-2015) was a prolific composer and pianist, bequeathing in all an impressive seven symphonies and seven string quartets, as well as numerous concertos and several major ballets. McCabe was appointed CBE by the Queen in 1985 for his services to British music. Three highly expressive chamber works make up this album. The piano quintet The Woman By The Sea draws inspiration from a the Kenji Mizoguchi film Sansho Dayu (1954). It was recorded in 2009 and features John McCabe on piano, with the Sacconi Quartet. Silver Nocturnes for baritone and string quartet, sets poetry by three of the so-called ‘Silver Poets’ of the sixteenth century: Henry Howard (Earl of Surrey), Sir Edward Dyer, and Sir Philip Sidney. There is a mournful, almost austere tone established through the Britten-esque vocals, here sung by Roderick Williams. McCabe described the french horn as "one of the most evocative and beautiful of all instruments". His Horn Quintet was written especially for the artists on this recording: David Pyatt and the Sacconi Quartet.
Although Jonathan Dove is best known as a vocal and choral composer, with operas and works for children forming the backbone of his output, his chamber music reveals similar predilections for narrative, drama, atmosphere and a sense of the personal. Our new commission In Damascus was inspired by Hannah’s suggestion for a work that should reflect aspects of the conflict in Syria; not because music can offer any political solution, but simply as an expression of empathy, sorrow, even outrage at those terrible events. Featuring a performance by tenor Mark Padmore, the text is taken from prose-poems by Ali Safar that draw on his first-hand experiences in Syria, eloquently translated by Anne-Marie McManus.
The beauty of the piece, for tenor and string quartet, is its restraint. It doesn’t sensationalise, get maudlin, moralise or politicise. The words are direct and the music respects that. The performance does, too: clear, focused playing from the Sacconi Quartet and lucid, unswerving narrative from tenor Mark Padmore. The rest of the disc is lighter but always with that trademark Dove economy: the Sacconis sound relaxed and bubbly in the 2001 quartet Out of Time and pianist Charles Owen joins for the Piano Quintet, intense and light-filled.Kate Molleson, The Guardian, June 2017
Seldom does a mixed vocal and chamber programme such as this hang together so perfectly,... This important release cannot be recommended too highly.Recording of the Month – August 2017 MALCOLM RILEY, GRAMOPHONE
Both Padmore and the Sacconi Quartet, who have a major expressive role as accompanists, are at their finest in ‘Soon, we will be free’, the serene, lyrical heart of [In Damascus]…pianist Charles Owen joins the Sacconis for the Piano Quintet, his crisp, incisive playing making a particular impression in the rhythmically buoyant outer movementsBBC Music Magazine, October 2017
Presented together on CD for the first time, Beethoven’s monumental opus 132 quartet and Mendelssohn’s dramatic response to it – his opus 13 quartet – are heard side by side.
Written only months after Beethoven’s death, Mendelssohn’s second string quartet contains a staggering number of structural and motivic similarities to the older composer’s late quartets, particularly his opus 132, and represents a staggering homage to Beethoven’s mastery.
Recorded over the space of two years, this is the Sacconi’s most important recording undertaking so far, presenting them at their most expressive and dramatic in these pillars of the string quartet repertoire.
String quartets stand out for different reasons, from quality of sound... to adventurous repertoire... to versatility, among whom the Sacconi Quartet... are front-runners. The playing is fresh and pliable, each work illuminating the other.Fiona Maddocks, The Observer, September 2016
Refreshing, committed performances... these young players relish the drama herein. The Beethoven is earthy and bold, although the slow movement is rapt and totally unsentimental. It is a new recording and sounds marvellous...Guy Weatherall, Classical Music Magazine, September 2016
The distinctive and passionate sound of Romantic Czech music is gloriously showcased in this new disc. It contains works by three prodigious Bohemian composers all of whom were featured in the 2010 Sacconi Chamber Music Festival in Folkestone: Dvorak, Suk and Smetana.
... a sensational and revealing new recording ... a superlative disc ... a treasure trove of top-drawer performances.Michael Tumelty, The Scottish Herald, July 2011
The Sacconi, a fast rising British string quartet ... bring something fresh and distinctive. Dvorak's American Quartet has a light touch and springy rhythms that suit the music perfectly. ... I loved Suk's Meditation on an Old Czech Hymn St WenceslasRichard Morrison, The Times, June 2011
This Czech programme suits the infectious bounce and fizz of the Sacconis, who bring Dvorak's songful "American" quartet to vivid life and drive along the dance-like second movement of Smetana's Quartet No 1 with an irrepressible swing. But it's not all party hats and streamers: Smetana's story was a tragic one, ending in the nightmare of deafness. His quartet carries the title "From My Life", and the sensitive Sacconis bear solemn witness to his sorrowful journey into silence. Equally, they create a reverential stillness in Suk's Meditation on an Old Czech Hymn, a single-movement work of fervent yet dignified Czech nationalism, written as the first world war doused all the festive lights across Europe.Stephen Pritchard, The Observer, July 2011
The Sacconi Quartet presents a new recording of three of Beethoven's masterful early string quartets, opus 18 nos 1, 4 and 6. These early masterpieces not only demonstrate his skill and mastery of the medium as developed by Haydn and Mozart, but also explore new musical territory.
Hearing the precision and vitality it brings to these quartets makes its success easy to understand. It has already achieved a surprisingly well-balanced sound that can blend together and separate out into distinctive parts with marvelous fluidity. The interpretations are energetic but controlled, never playing fast for the sake of bravura. Recorded sound throughout the disc is clear and resonate. This is certainly an ensemble to keep an eye on, with hopes that more of Beethoven's quartets will follow.allmusic.com
Ravel's sensuous Quartet coupled with Lalo's Quartet, classical in style and very beautiful, and Turina's poetic Prayer of the Bullfighter.
The finest version of the Ravel Quartet currently available.MusicWeb International
Haydn's masterful opus 54 quartets complete. Written for virtuoso violinist and friend of Haydn's Johann Tost, these quartets feature florid and virtuosic writing for all four parts - truly a conversation between four musical voices.
These are fascinating works, and the players respond intelligently to ideas that must have startled the more conventional Parisians ... This is good Haydn playing.International Record Review, June 2010
These are performances to treasure and one awaits eagerly the next release from the ensemble's new label.Classical Music Magazine 4* review
This young quartet is a revelation, playing with a mastery which is quite stunning. These three quartets are superbly performed and brilliantly recorded. They are amongst the best ever recordings of Haydn Quartets.Bob Briggs - MusicWeb International - RECORDING OF THE MONTH
There is a concentration on the detailed changes of character of the music as it evolves, and a clear headedness about the performances that is both invigorating and involving... Quartet playing and music of this quality is rare on disc, which rises well above the routine or merely adequate.John Sheppard, MusicWeb International
We are indebted to Neil Canning for his stunning set of paintings - Sacconi Suite - which form the front covers to our first ten CDs on Sacconi Records.
Chameleon, a concerto for alto saxophone, together with a wind quintet and duos with piano for flute, bassoon and bass clarinet: all the works on this CD display the vitality, lyricism and clarity that characterize the music of this composer, performed here by a distinguished line-up of players.
Joanna Wallfisch with a stunning new collaboration with pianist Dan Tepfer and The Sacconi Quartet
"The Sacconi Quartet offer a wealth of expression and personality with their impressive range of colours and textures..."Zosia Jagodzinska,London Jazz News, September 2016
Includes the Sacconi Quartet playing Mendelssohn's String Quartet No.2 in A Minor Op.13
In this vastly enjoyable complete set of Mendelssohn’s music for string quartet (and it really means ‘complete’, as it includes Fanny’s String Quartet), the first distinct references to Beethoven can be found in the first of the numbered quartets. It is confusingly numbered No 2 (it was written in 1827, two years before No 1) and is cleverly ascribed here to the most experienced of the young groups to appear in this collection, the Sacconi Quartet. There is a strong sense of four distinct musical voices enjoying a conversation in their performance – No 2 is in no way an egotistical piece and the batsqueaks of romanticism do not ever interfere with what was, at this point, still a conservative style. As a result, No 2 throws up more questions than the other, more overtly complicated quartets, and the Sacconis, with their elegant and understated performance, give a strong impression of being best placed to answer them.Caroline Gill, Gramophone, issue 08/2014
Featuring the Sacconi Quartet.
CD includes Asleep from Piazzolla's Five Tango Sensations for Accordian & String Quartet.
CD also includes John Metcalf's Septet, Castell Dolbadarn & Mapping Wales.
Featuring the Sacconi Quartet on:
1 No Going Back
2 Do As I Say
5 My Baby Left Me
6 Forever Always Wishing
8 Breakfast in Bed
Malcolm Creese, Tim Garland, Gwilym Simcock & The Sacconi Strings.
Roderick Williams (baritone) and Sacconi Quartet.
CD also includes Earth and Air and Rain and To a Poet by Finzi, with Roderick Williams and Ian Burnside (piano).