James MacMillan: Visions of a November Spring

‘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.

"The outstanding Edinburgh Quartet deliver every detail of these sometimes complex scores with total commitment, communicating them with passion and intensity. With an excellent recorded sound, this is a superb and valuable addition to the discography of MacMillan's purely instrumental music."

"Visions of a November Spring [is] an important work of stylistic transition, its title reflecting an opening to new modes of expression, its mood at once lyrical and aggressive. The poignant miniature, For Sonny (2011), and the String Quartet No 3 (2007), at once lyrical, ecstatic and ethereal, complete this wide-ranging, vividly played recording."

"These performances are full of understanding of, and enthusiasm for, the composer."


" glorious set of performances"

"The performances by the Edinburgh Quartet…seem in so far as I can judge to be impeccably tuned and delivered...Even when the music is at its most searing, there is always a sense of thematic development which draws the listener onwards. One looks forward with anticipation to the second volume in this series."

"I am astonished by these players, by their complete immersion in MacMillan’s sound-world, their nerve and by their communicative power"

"brilliantly executed...stunningly played"

"these are impressive and worth your time. The Edinburgh Quartet is excellent."


Producer: Paul Baxter
Recording venues: Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church, Edinburgh
Recording dates: 25-27 July 2013 & 29-30 January 2014
Physical format: Jewel case
Number of discs: 1
Number of tracks: 7
Release date: 28 July 2014
Album ID: DCD34088
Total playing time: 1:15:56

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