Moving Farewell


Just when Telarc was stretching the digital limits by recording in 20-bits, the members of the Cleveland Quartet affirmed that they had reached their limit. With their farewell concert, one of America's finest string quartets of the latter 20th century sealed a career that had earned them seven Grammy nominations and universal acclaim. Just days before the final concert, the quartet's members put their prized Stadivarius, Guadagnini, Gaspar da Salo, and Guarneri instruments together to set down Corigliano: Quartet & Haydn: Quartet, Op. 76, No. 5.

The Haydn, one of the first pieces of music mastered by the quartet's original members, is the epitome of elegance, grace, and joyful exuberance. The simplicity of its Largo touches the heart, and the high spirits of its conclusion affirm the beauties of the classical tradition. Gorgeous stuff.

Then comes the Corigliano's world premiere recording. Commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Clevelander's farewell tour, it announces itself as strikingly modern before eventually settling into passages that sound far more traditional and emotionally evocative. Its third movement Nocturne, for example, recalls a pre-sunrise morning in Morocco when the composer was awakened by the calls of multiple muezzins from the city's many mosques. As their voices united in what Corigliano calls "a glorious counterpoint," they created a major chord that welcomed the dawn. The music and musicianship are as welcoming as they are compelling.