Quartet Triptych Spanning Nearly Four Centuries
The Ruisi Quartet makes its recording debut on Pentatone with Big House, bringing together music by Matthew Locke, Joseph Haydn and Oliver Leith. Spanning nearly four centuries, this combination of composers establishes a harmonious as well as dissonant relationship between past, present and future.
Celebrated for their deeply engaging performances of early repertoire alongside championing progressive new music, the critically-acclaimed Ruisi Quartet has established an international reputation as a charismatic and expressive young ensemble.
This album is available at NativeDSD in Stereo DSD 512, DSD 256, DSD 128, DSD 64, DXD, 24/192 FLAC and 24/96 FLAC. It is not available on SACD.
Alessandro Ruisi – Violin I
Oliver Cave – Violin II
Luba Tunnicliffe – Viola
Max Ruisi – Cello
TracklistPlease note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Total time: 01:22:39
|Original Recording Format|
|Release Date||March 31, 2023|
Joseph Haydn bestowed upon the world the classical string quartet form. Nearly 300 years later, the Ruisi Quartet (recipients of a 2019 Career Development Award from the Banff International String Quartet Competition) bridges time with a vibrant program spanning the centuries through the music of Joseph “Papa Joe” Haydn, Matthew Locke, and Oliver Leith.
Their engaging program begins with Haydn’s String Quartet No. 11 in D minor, Op. 9, No. 4, composed c. 1769. Nearly a century earlier, the Baroque composer and music theorist Locke had helped pave the way for Haydn through his exploration of the viol consort and the improvisational nature of the musical fantasy. His Fantasie in F is included here, juxtaposed with the Baroque-inspired piece A Different Fantasie from Suite No. 5 in G minor, a modern work by the 33-year-old Leith and the lead-in to Leith’s very modern quartet The Big House, a seven-movement Ruisi commission that had its premiere in 2021 at Wigmore Hall in London.
The Big House is the perfect companion to the program’s closer, Haydn’s moody String Quartet No. 23 in F minor, Op. 20, No. 5, in which Papa Joe rejected the courtly galante style to define the string quartet form while using fugue to establish the independence of the instruments. The Ruisi provide a superlative program, dazzlingly conveyed and aptly displaying the vitality of the string quartet form—a big house, indeed.
What connects seemingly disparate repertoire? The Ruisi Quartet’s imaginative and possibly eccentric debut solo album pits early Haydn quartets, written at a time when he was forging a new style, alongside Oliver Leith, a British composer in the early stages of his career. The sound worlds are widely contrasting, yet both challenge convention.
Leith is alert to microtonal writing and electronically hued grunge styles, which bleed into more traditional notation. The performance instructions bypass the norm, with requests such as ‘looser or lazier’. His quartet, entitled The Big House, takes inspiration from Yeats’s ‘The Curse of Cromwell’ with evocative movement titles such as ‘Blue Bottles’ and ‘Sunshine Choir’, the latter featuring still chords lingering in a haze of heat. A remixing of Matthew Locke’s Fantasie is bewitching. Leith was inspired here by the simple musical text replaying snatches on a loop.
Exploring such varied sound worlds has enlivened the Ruisi Quartet’s interpretations of the Haydn, which are defined by compelling spontaneity and supported by an excellent recording. It is almost as if they too have been liberated to search for new colours in such well-loved music. The Fuga a duo soggetti that closes op.20 no.5 is breath-taking in its clarity, while the slow movement of op.9 no.4 is gloriously poetic and expressive.
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