Sony Classical is proud to announce a new recording by the Juilliard String Quartet of Elliott Carter’s String Quartet No. 5.
Packaged together with the reissue of the Juilliard String Quartet’s recordings of Carter’s quartets Nos. 1 through 4, the entire collection of Carter's five string quartets is now available in a single 2-CD set.
In a new essay included in the liner notes, composer David Schiff (who studied with Carter at Juilliard and is the author of The Music of Elliott Carter) notes the historic connection between the group and the composer: “no ensemble has been as essential in bringing these works to life as the Juilliard String Quartet. The members of the quartet were not merely Carter's able executors – they premiered the Second (in 1960) and Third Quartets – they were his Manhattan neighbors and Juilliard School colleagues. Their performances grew out of friendships that spanned over half a century. In many ways, the music reflects the personalities and playing styles of the quartet's personnel.”
Elliott Carter's string quartets are among the greatest in the literature. And each of these performances is definitive. The large scale First Quartet (1951) examines the history of the form while creating a sense of time that is both inward-turning and expansive; the Pulitzer Prize winning String Quartet No. 2 (1960), which Carter compared to the plays of Samuel Beckett, has the instruments talking at and past each other; the Third Quartet (1973), also a Pulitzer winner, is an extraordinarily complex rhythmic extrapolation of traditional forms; String Quartet No. 4 (1986) is closest to traditional forms, with the four musicians seeking consensus through argument. The new recording of String Quartet No. 5 (1995) exemplifies Carter’s lyrical late style and his extraordinary final period of creativity; he turned eighty-seven that year and continued to compose until his death at 103 in 2012. The twelve movements are brief, mercurial, full of rich expressive freedom couched in plain language.