Irving Fine: String Quartet (1952)

Nonesuch 79175

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American composer Irving Fine's work stands as a notable exception to the generalization of American music from the 1950s as too cerebral, esoteric, and academic. A student of Nadia Boulanger, Fine’s output was refined, accessible, and modern all at once. The New York Times praised this album’s “crisp, heartfelt performances,” which showcase Fine’s “wistful lyricism and exquisite craftsmanship.”

"The name of Irving Fine (1914-62) may be unknown to many younger concertgoers and record collectors, but the Boston-born composer was an important presence on the local scene most of his adult life. Like Virgil Thomson and Elliott Carter before him, Fine studied at Harvard and then went to Paris to work with Nadia Boulanger; after his return he taught for many years at his alma mater and then, later, at Brandeis. From the sound of his music, Fine was no musty academic figure, but the protection of the academic world enabled him to write music of unusual refinement of detail and distinction of style; other figures in the history of music that he corresponds to are Faure and Frank Martin. The works Nonesuch has assembled on this CD make a persuasive case for the permanent value of Fine's accomplishment." Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe

"Irving Fine was one of those composers of the 1950s much admired by his colleagues and little known by the concert public, but his music, whether in the Stravinskian neo-classical vein or the Schoenberian serial vein, possesses an integrity that is standing the test of time.

Nonesuch has assembled splendid performers to serve it (the New York Chamber Symphony, conducted by Gerard Schwarz, in the case of the Notturno, the New York Woodwind Quintet in the case of the Partita, the Lydian Quartet in case of the String Quartet and the Cantata Singers in the case of The Hour-Glass) and then gone to to trouble of recording them sympathetically." William Littler, Toronto Star

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