- Recorded: 2008
- Record label: NMC Recordings
- Performers: Divertimenti Ensemble, Schubert Ensemble, Haffner Wind Ensemble, Brindisi Quartet; Melinda Maxwell (oboe); Oliver Knussen (conductor)
- Availability: On general release
This disc of chamber music brings together works previously issued only on LP, from the Schubert and Divertimenti Ensembles, with an unreleased recording by the Brindisi Quartet of String Quartet No.2. The disc is completed with Five Concertinos for Wind Quintet, performed by Nicholas Daniel’s Haffner Ensemble.
Reviews of Divertimento etc.
In this collection of Colin Matthews’ chamber music from the 1980s, the most important item is the newcomer, a 1996 recording of Matthews’ Second String Quartet. Completed in 1989, it’s a taut, compelling piece that brings together all the ingredients of Matthews’ musical language at the time and weaves them into a rigorous discourse that has an almost Elliott Carter-like energy and intensity.
These reissues from other labels, plus a first release, make permanently available five of Matthews’s works from the 1980s. The Divertimento for Double String Quartet, performed by Divertimenti Ensemble under Oliver Knussen, intriguingly takes off from the opening chords of Strauss’s Metamorphosen. The brief Triptych, for piano quintet (Schubert Ensemble), exploits the double bass’s always slightly eerie melodic capacity and ends most unexpectedly. Melinda Maxwell is an eloquent soloist with Divertimenti in the one-movement Oboe Quartet No 1. The new release is of the brilliant, scurrying, elusive String Quartet No 2, in a 1996 recording of the revised version by the Brindisi Quartet.
These chamber works from the 1980s show Colin Matthews at his most buoyant, cresting the waves with exuberance and flair. His own voice is unmistakable and, in these pieces, all the more appealing for the compactness and directness of the way the music speaks.