‘For fifty years the Edinburgh Quartet has been one of the leading chamber ensembles of the UK,’ wrote the quartet’s patron James MacMillan on the occasion of their fiftieth anniversary in 2010. ‘I feel proud to be associated with them as they enter their second half-century under the dynamic leadership of Tristan Gurney, providing some of the most exciting performances in the business.’
Exciting is certainly the word to describe these marvellously idiomatic, intensely virtuosic readings of MacMillan’s own music. Spanning his career from 1982 to 2011, they provide three snapshots of his evolving style: an intriguing tissue of Wagnerian referentiality; a burst of youthful energy with touches of the visionary; and the sovereign integration of folk and discursive elements in String Quartet No 3. A moving short tribute, For Sonny, shows another side to this ceaselessly inventive composer’s output.