Saturday, January 19, 2008

For the Nancarrow nut...

Nancarrow: String Quartets, Transcriptions, Etc
Arditti String Quartet
Wergo #6696

Now every classical fan has something in their collection that outsiders may deem slightly excessive or perhaps even partially eccentric. Things like having more than a few comprehensive ring cycles, whole oeuvres by composers other than Webern or Varese, that sort of thing. For me, I'd say the most obvious of these traits is my complete collection of Conlon Nancarrow's Studies for Player Piano.

One would think that 5 discs worth of Nancarrow's music would be enough for any mortal, but alas, it isn't. Wergo's latest release of Nancarrow material features the Arditti String Quartet playing a variety of compositions, from string quartets to transcriptions of his player piano studies to little lollipops for strings and player piano. Nancarrow's music has the tremendous advantage of being both charming and completely bizarre, like watching a children's cartoon in another language, but with no subtitles. All at once being familiar and fun, but also from a world very different from our own.

This particular disc though isn't for the Nancarrow newbie, only for established eccentrics. Someone unfamiliar with Nancarrow's obsessions with canons and fugues would find more interest in the impossibilities of his Study for Player Piano 3a rather than anything here. But if your thirst for Conlon Nancarrow has yet to be quenched by previous recordings then this might be the next CD to add to your collection.

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