NET Radio: American Album is November 2011 Hot Pick

NET Radio
November 2011

Buy the Album

Antonin DVORAK: “American” String Quartet No. 12 in F Op. 96; Charles Tomlinson GRIFFES: Two Sketches Based on Indian Themes; Samuel BARBER: String Quartet in b Op. 11

The Cypress String Quartet celebrates 15 years of great music-making in 2011-2012, and this new CD is certainly a gift to music lovers everywhere. Adopting an American 'can-do' spirit, the Cypress has released the album on its own label, and features composers who were inspired by a similar spirit of seeking a new, uniquely American sound for their own succeeding generations. The performances are outstanding - as usual - from these former Meadowlark Music Festival musicians.

The Dvorak is warm and clear, pulsing with energy and its lyricism lovingly shaped. The Griffes is a real discovery, with in-depth research by the quartet adding to the expressiveness of each movement. The first sketch is full of poignancy; based on the Chippewa Farewell Song, sung by the warriors leaving for battle, and by women and children returning from the battlefield. Our four musicians are suitably celebratory in the second sketch, inspired by a Hopi Festival. Barber's string quartet stands out for having no native references, but still sounding thoroughly American. The Cypress Quartet plays up the work's romanticism without losing the fierce, surging energy of the first and last movements. The lyrical passages are finely balanced between energy and serenity, with the middle movement Adagio as exquisite as any of the performances in its string orchestra version!