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New Recordings by the Carducci Quartet

Philip Gates: A Garland for Gatsby. Philip Gates, piano; Carducci Quartet: Matthew Denton and Michelle Fleming, violins; Eoin Schmidt-Martin, viola; and Emma Denton, cello (Melodist 3130)

24844_gates

If you’re a fan of talented young chamber musicians interpreting the works of gifted living composers, this disc comes highly recommended. This intriguing release features three works by 46-year-old composer and pianist Philip Gates, whose introspective music has been likened to Ravel and Poulenc. Those works include the Piano Quintet, featuring the exciting young British ensemble the Carducci Quartet, which has been praised in the UK press for its sublime unanimity. Here, here! It’s the same kind of musical fit that earned the Brodskys so much acclaim.

The 17-minute piano quintet is divided into three movements, titled “Largo—Allegretto,” a sonata; the beautiful, tranquil “Romanza”; and “Vivace,” a playful tarantella that concludes with a slow epilogue built upon an earlier theme. It’s uncanny to hear the Carduccis fall in step as the ensemble ebbs and flows in perfect harmony against the surging piano melodies. And it’s a delight to hear the violins move seamlessly from playful pizzicato to urgent arco.

The result is most satisfying and left me wanting to hear more of the Carduccis, who have recorded several other discs, including the critically acclaimed 2004 chamber-jazz release A Piazzolla: Le Grand Tango, with the guitar-playing Katona Twins, on the Channel Classics label, as well as a collection of world-premiere quartets by the now deceased British composer Graham Whettam. The same can be said of Gates, whose solo piano title track is an exceedingly thoughtful exploration of both modern and traditional jazz styles, from swing to stride, all expertly executed.

*This article appeared in Strings May 2009
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