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Between two worlds: Adès | Beethoven | Dowland | Lassus


From the darkness of night emerges day, the cycle of nature tracing the journey of the soul. The finely calibrated emotions of Orlande de Lassus’s song La nuit froide et sombre, and of his near-contemporary John Dowland’s Come, heavy sleep, are made newly vivid in transcriptions by the Castalian String Quartet, framing a programme which exists both inside and beyond time.
Profound meditations on immortality and worldliness from Beethoven and Thomas Adès receive readings of extraordinary intensity, the Quartet’s burnished tone and astounding interconnectedness making this a debut that demands to be heard.
Part 5 in Delphian's YCAT Partnership

"Beethoven’s late quartet, No 15 in A minor, Op 132, at its heart, beautifully sprung, precise and detailed. The pivotal “thanksgiving” slow movement is taut and serene. A compelling reason to buy the disc is Thomas Adès’s The Four Quartets, Op 28, tracing the course of the day from the whispered harmonics of Nightfalls to the zestful pizzicatos of Morning Dew, the persistent ostinatos of Days and the disrupted fictions of The Twenty-Fifth Hour ...Many quartets have broken the tradition of single-composer discs. The Castalians do it with top performances and meticulous imagination"

'Imaginatively programmed around two masterpieces of string-quartet writing, this Castalian String Quartet album is a triumph. Lassus’ haunting, late-16th-century setting of a poem about the return of light after darkness sets the very special tone and ushers in Beethoven’s late String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, which explores mortality while seeking to step outside time. The Castalians play it with moving humanity and empathy for its anguish and hope. Thomas Adès’ The Four Quarters (2011) follows the time of a day, but it too seems to escape time in “The Twenty-fifth Hour”. The album closes centuries earlier with Dowland’s plea for sleep—or perhaps death'

'How often do we listen to a full string quartet programme and feel we’ve been taken to hell and back? Not in a bad way. It’s just that music for this genre can, without respite, amount to quite a heavy emotional load, Whether that thought was instrumental in guiding the excellent Castalian Quartet towards such a beautifully balanced sequence - heavyweight Beethoven and Adès softened, indeed contextualised, by exquisite miniatures by Lassus and Dowland - is neither here not there. The end result is as refreshing as it is profound. There’s a distinctive quality to this ensemble’s playing that fuses personality and oneness ...'

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

"The Castalian Quartet play everything here with such intelligent reflection and revealing precision making -- telling connections between Adés and Beethoven; Lassus and Dowland. [A] beautifully made and imaginative concept album, and a lovely recording as well"


Release Date: 29 April 2022
Catalogue No: DCD34272
Total playing time: 66:43
Recorded on 14-16 June 2021 in Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh
Producer/Engineer: Paul Baxter
24-bit digital editing: James Waterhouse
24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter
Cover image: Dave Hoefler / Unsplash
Session photography:
Design: John Christ
Booklet editor: John Fallas
Delphian Records Ltd – Edinburgh – UK
Singing In Secret: Clandestine Catholic Music by William Byrd CD Delphian Records


Beethoven:String Quartet No. 15 in A minor

Part of the YCAT series on Delphian

This partnership between Delphian Records and YCAT offers rare new recording opportunities for the most promising young artists, combining YCAT’s mission of developing careers at a world-class level with Delphian’s twenty-year-long reputation for bold, considered programming. The partnership will give the artists a unique experience – from initial concept planning, recording and editing to the final packaged and digital product – and will enhance Delphian and YCAT’s commitments to nurturing artists’ artistic development and long-term careers.

Read more about the partnership and discover the range of releases here

Album Booklet

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