Wiren Quartet – Wiren: String Quartets Nos. 2-5 (2018) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Wirén Quartet – Wirén: String Quartets Nos. 2-5 (2018) 
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:10:29 minutes | 1,24 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Naxos

The tapestry of drama, refinement and expressive lyricism in Dag Wirén’s four string quartets (the First Quartet was withdrawn) provides a substantial overview of his musical evolution over 35 years. His earlier works are more accessible than challenging, as demonstrated by the relaxed and affirmative Second and Third Quartets. The Fourth Quartet is more sombre, with nods towards Sibelius and Shostakovich, and in the Fifth, completed not long before Wirén’s retirement as a composer, the easy confidence of the earlier quartets has been replaced by a mood of pessimism and uncertainty.

“Of Dag Wirén’s seven string quartets, only four appear on this 2005 release on Daphne. If these lightweight and weakly imagined works are representative of the complete oeuvre – and it appears that Wirén approved only these for performance – then the rejected quartets are probably nothing to grieve over. For lack of a better term, Wirén’s string quartets may be described as conservatively neo-Classical, chiefly for the dutiful observance of traditional forms and the regular development of themes along sonata lines. Yet it seems reasonable to regard them as academic exercises, rather than as major artistic statements, that lag behind the vanguard of their respective time periods. The String Quartet No. 2, Op. 9 (1935), is accessible and folk-like in its rugged dance rhythms and simple melodies, and the String Quartet No. 3, Op. 18 (1941-1945), is similarly buoyed by its lively tunes and pulsing, repetitive patterns. The String Quartet No. 4, Op. 28 (1952-1953), and the String Quartet No. 5, Op. 41 (1970), are somewhat more advanced in the use of dissonant counterpoint, special string effects, chromatic harmonies, and expanded tonal possibilities; but Wirén’s tendency to balance his phrases at every turn and his excessive reliance on sequences make his music seem hidebound, formulaic, and stiff. One wishes for the introduction of odd meters, interruptions of melodies, startling mood changes, or anything quirky or unexpected to break up the excessively logical, predictable writing in these pieces, and to lift the music out of its tedious regularity. The Lysell Quartet brings considerable energy and expressive warmth to these lackluster compositions, and Daphne’s sound quality is good, if not extraordinary. But this disc offers little of interest to serious students of the modern string quartet, and may appeal most to seekers of mid-twentieth century obscurities.” (Blair Sanderson, AMG)

1. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 9: I. Theme & Variations (07:46)
2. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 9: II. Scherzo (06:02)
3. String Quartet No. 2, Op. 9: III. Finale (05:07)
4. String Quartet No. 3, Op. 18: I. Allegro moderato (05:37)
5. String Quartet No. 3, Op. 18: II. Andante – Vivace – Allegretto (05:33)
6. String Quartet No. 3, Op. 18: III. Presto (02:44)
7. String Quartet No. 3, Op. 18: IV. Allegro (05:42)
8. String Quartet No. 4, Op. 28: I. Calmo – Allegro molto – Calmo (04:59)
9. String Quartet No. 4, Op. 28: II. Intermezzo I. Moderato (02:31)
10. String Quartet No. 4, Op. 28: III. Intermezzo II. Prestissimo (02:05)
11. String Quartet No. 4, Op. 28: IV. Lento (04:26)
12. String Quartet No. 4, Op. 28: V. Allegro molto (04:52)
13. String Quartet No. 5, Op. 41: I. Allegro molto (03:51)
14. String Quartet No. 5, Op. 41: II. Andante espressivo – Allegro capriccioso (04:52)
15. String Quartet No. 5, Op. 41: III. Allegro (04:22)

Lysell String Quartet:
Thomas Sundkvist, viola
Bernt Lysell, violin
Per Sandklef, violin
Mikael Sjögren, cello