American Classics: Four American Quartets (Glass, Herrmann, Antheil, Evans)

****/* "Une interprétation particulièrement remarquable du Quatuor à cordes N° 3 de George Antheil"  (, 03-2009)

"Indépendamment de leurs mérites respectifs, ces quatre quatuors ont un point commun: ils requièrent la plus grande virtuosité collective et la trouvent au sein du Fine Arts Quartet, dans une excellente prise de son." (Claude Gingras,, 11 janvier 2009) Full review

****/* "Quatuor d'une conception originale avec ses brèves sections enchaînées, Echoes bénéficie d'une exécution splendide où les instrumentistes du Fine Arts Quartet montrent tout leur talent et mettent en valeur chaque épisode." (Denis Urval,, 01-2009)

 "The Fine Arts quartet gives [these four quartets] full measure...[Evans Quartet]: In this egalitarian and at times contrapuntal work, they are careful to keep the textures clear, and make the most of the intense slow movement and the dancing finale. In Philip Glass's Second Quartet...they do well to convey a feeling of emotional involvement...The Fine Arts Quartet plays [Antheil's Quartet] with energy and open-hearted emotion, deftly negotiating the kaleidoscopic whirl of material in the last movement...Of these four works the most rewarding is Bernard Herrmann's which the players bring reserves of subtlety." (The Strad, November 2008) 

"Dopo rilevata la rarità dei tre Quartetti sin qui menzionati, la sorpresa e l’interesse maggiore arrivano con il Quartetto di Evans (1995)...Il suo Quartetto si rivela, melodicamente ed armonicamente, un piccolo capolavoro. Anch’esso nell’insieme ligio alle norme che van dalla dominante alla tonica, dalla cadenza d’inganno a quella plagale, da una settima diminuita a una quinta aumentata, è d’audizione affascinante." (Gli Amici della Musica, Novembre 2008)  

"***** BBC MUSIC CHOICE... RARE EXCELLENCE...A FINE FOUR BY FOUR ...HOWARD GOLDSTEIN HAILS THE FINE ARTS' IMAGINATIVE SET...Fine Arts Quartet are this month's premiere group...For over 65 years, the Fine Arts Quartet has set standards of style and repertoire that have rarely been equalled." (BBC Music Magazine, August 2008) 

BBC Music Magazine

"Naxos' Four American Quartets is a refreshing and intriguing program that whets one's appetite for the remaining slate of Fine Arts Quartet releases...[Evans' Quartet] is whimsical and clever, and in relation to the Babbitts and Boulezes of that time, this quartet has a Flying Spaghetti Monster-ish aspect to it. It is the Darmstadt school turned on its head, containing no specific references to pre-existing music, yet Evans constructs fleeting figments of tonality in a formal design that is architectonic, rather than based on psychological form or other established strategies. Evans' quartet is both engaging and amusing and well deserves recording...It is stimulating to hear this quartet [Glass No.2] played with a little more bite than is the norm...Fine Arts' recording represents a positive step toward establishing this excellent quartet [Antheil No.3] to a well-deserved place in the main quartet literature..." 

(Uncle Dave Lewis,, August 2008)  

"**** Offbeat but listenable: a nice combination." (Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette, Aug 6, 2008)  

"FOUR FINE RARITIES...A disc of 4 rarities, all of them worth your time. Recent Fine Arts Quartet releases have included the likes of Schumann and Mendelssohn, but this is a valuable trip off the beaten path." (Jim Shine,, July 29, 2008)  Full review

"A thoroughly winning CD...The [Fine Arts Quartet's] present personnel are still going strong and Naxos' typically generous 62.5 minutes of wholly engaging playing time reveals the ensemble in its element." (Howard Smith,, July 22, 2008)  Full review

"Those living in Europe can easily forget the enormous amount and diversity of chamber music produced in the United States during the 20th century. This arresting disc provides a guide to quartets from composers throughout the century"  

(David Denton, David's Review Corner, July 2008)  Full review

"Here are four string quartets by American composers, all vivid and in diverse styles." 

(Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International, July 2008)  Full review

"***/* Veteran violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico, violist Yuri Gandelsman and cellist Wolfgang Laufer...bring their assured, no-nonsense playing to four American pieces written during the quartet's lifetime. The George Antheil's String Quartet No. 3. We also get a dynamic reading of the "Company" Quartet (No.2) by Philip Glass, written in his typical, layered note-patterns, and Evans' rich and inventive String Quartet No.1, from 1995. The standout is by film composer Bernard Herrmann, whose fabulously melancholy Echoes for String Quartet was written a decade before he died."   (John Terauds, Toronto Star, Aug 12, 2008)   Full review

"Most interesting are the Third Quartet of George Antheil, where Dvorák meets Shostakovich, and Bernard Herrmann's Echoes for String Quartet, music that typically combines atmosphere (it was written for a ballet) with motivic tautness...The attractive First Quartet by the Fine Arts Quartet's violinist Ralph Evans has plenty of substance...The players' advocacy is never in doubt."  

(Matthew Rye, The Telegraph, August 23, 2008)  Full Review

"Evans's quartet joins a pleasing programme...I find Herrmann's Echoes the most intriguing...Hitchcock aficionados may well find themselves creating mental images to match the moods of these evocative pieces...It is to be hoped that other quartets may find their way to this concert piece by Herrman at last...Expertly played, like everything else here"  (Gramophone, October 2008)

"The new Naxos recording by the Fine Arts Quartet...suggests that Evans was wise to share the piece with the world...The piece contains lovely string writing and some wry, often delighting, harmonic swerves...What makes the Second Quartet [Glass] so effective is the freshness and energy with which these gestures are employed...the [Antheil] quartet’s deliberate angularity and even its occasional Bartokian bumptiousness contain considerable wit and charm...[Herrmann's] Echoes...demonstrates that the epic sweep of his cinematic style could also be applied with good results in chamber music." (Christian Carey, Sequenza21, August 29, 2008)  Full review

"Vigorous and committed playing by the Fine Arts Quartet...The present disc offers an offbeat program and a real discovery with Bernard Herrmann’s Echoes." (Lawrence A. Johnson, South Florida Classical Review, September 11, 2008)  

"The four 20th-century quartets played by the Fine Arts Quartet show some of the very different directions in which chamber music moved in the last century...The Evans work is lively and tuneful...The quartet by in a single movement whose 10 sections are skillfully linked in an understated way. And the Antheil is fun..."  (Infodad, September 11, 2008)  Full review

"This is an interesting and intelligently planned recital mixing the unknown with the well known...The performances of the Fine Arts Quartet are full-blooded and very committed...Well worth having for the Herrmann and Antheil scores which should be better known."

 (Bob Briggs, MusicWeb International, October 2008)   Full review

"*** Chaque présidentielle américaine est l’objet d’une couverture médiatique effrénée. À cette occasion, les perceptions anxieuses du monde se tournent vers cette nation paradoxale, souvent l’objet de simplifications extrêmes. Dans ce contexte, la série American Classics (Naxos) offre la possibilité de changer de regard et de sortir l’imaginaire des ornières polarisées de la politique. Très différents, les Four american quartets témoignent de la diversité de style qui anime les compositeurs de ce pays."  

(Journal Le Soleil, Québec, 13 Sept 2008)  

"Het Fine arts quartet doorstaat de test met glans en dat maakt deze cd een feest om naar te luisteren" 

(, October 2008)  

"Levyn yhtyekin on perustettu jo 1946, mikä tuo soittoon mukavaa väriä ja varmuutta."   

(, 25. lokakuuta 2008 )   

"George Antheilin kansansävelmiä hyödyntävässä kvartetossa on puhtia ja persoonaa: laulullisuutta, ironista kipinää ja lennokasta leikkiä. Hienostunein teoksista on Bernard Herrmannin Echoes jousikvartetolle. Siinä on kaikuu baletti: hienosyisiä siirtymiä elegisistä sävyistä valssiin, melankoliaan ja riuskaan leikillisyyteen, makaaberiin ja voimannäyttöön."  (, 29.10.2008)  Full review

"Le Fine Arts Quartet est un ensemble renommé et de qualité, qui bénéficie dans cet enregistrement d’une prise de son très satisfaisante. Seul le choix arbitraire du répertoire, inhérent à toute compilation, pourrait faire émettre quelques réserves sur ce disque, dont on ne peut considérer qu’il soit très représentatif des œuvres majeures américaines du genre. Mais c’est aussi sa qualité principale que de sortir des sentiers battus pour présenter le Troisième quatuor de Georges Antheil et les Echoes de Bernard Herrmann : cela aurait suffit à notre bonheur. On considèrera que le reste constitue un bonus"  (ClassiqueInfo-disque, 25 novembre 2008)    

"Evans...finished it in 1995: distinctive, personal and generally tonal, it makes a fine disc-mate for Glass’ nine-minute piece from 1983, Antheil’s conservative, folk-oriented in a Dvorakian way, quartet of 1948 and Herrmann’s single-movement piece from 1965...Particularly good to have a new recording of anything by Herrmann!" (Records International,  August 2008)   Full review

"The Fine Arts Quartet is one of the best American quartets that get a bum rap. They deserve better recognition then they've been having over the years. All the of the quartets are played just fine without the overproduction tricks that most of the new quartets have adopted. Even the Glass quartet sounds somehow musical and why isn't Antheil played more often? The recital here may not have all of the glitz and gags that come with most new music recordings but they sure do have the goods." (Boolez, iTunes Customer Review)  Full Review

****"Off the beaten path...While there's not much connecting the four works here, the whole thing hangs together well. Ralph Evans (the quartet's first violin) has produced a likeable piece that grows with rehearing... Overall, this is a highly entertaining trip off the beaten path."  (Nereffid,, July 2008)  Full Review