Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
David Diamond was a natural quartet writer: his contrapuntal dexterity and feeling for texture make his handling of the four instruments and their ongoing interplay a joy to hear, even when his language turns uncompromisingly chromatic and dissonant (as in the Fifth and Sixth Quartets included here). He also used the medium to explore a wide range of differing forms: the First Quartet requires but a single movement; No. 5 has three, all based on the same material; No. 6 employs two, an opening allegro followed by a theme and variations. Diamond points to Beethoven’s last piano sonata as his inspiration for the structure of this latter piece, and it’s clear that he understands exactly how he fits into the grand legacy of chamber-music writing that this music so fittingly celebrates.
So the bottom line is that even at its most difficult, the music has a strong sense of shape, line, and direction, which is just the ticket if you happen to be a string quartet aficionado and enjoy the works of, say, Bartók and Shostakovich. Diamond’s efforts are serious and emotionally intense, but never pretentious or impenetrable. As with previous volumes in this series, the performances by the Potomac String Quartet are excellent. Principal violin George Marsh, in particular, has a quick vibrato that gives Diamond’s high-lying cantilenas an ecstatic quality very much in keeping with their expressive point. This is by no means easy listening, but it is worth the time and rewards repetition. Terrific sonics complement the performances. Good stuff! [7/28/2006]
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: None
DAVID DIAMOND - String Quartets Nos. 1, 5, & 6