The Strad Issue: March 2018
Description: Inviting performances of engaging contemporary minimalism
Musicians: Sacconi Quartet
Works: FITKIN Servant; Inside; A Small Quartet; Another Small Quartet; String; Pawn
Catalogue Number: SIGNUM CLASSICS SIGCD 518
Economy of means is Graham Fitkin’s guiding force, his music for strings reminiscent of Philip Glass, although its driving rhythms underpin a more richly chromatic tonal language. Servant, from 1992, is a great introduction to Fitkin’s expressive oeuvre, the strings working together in pounding gestures that build to great effect – only to be wrong-footed and thrown off at a different pace. The Sacconi Quartet is clearly at home with Fitkin’s lush textures, and recorded sound here, as throughout the disc, is impeccably crisp, clear and inviting.
Inside (2006) holds a deeper sense of unease. Tension grows as the strings race relentlessly, until towards the end a blissful sustained section appears, like a sudden, light-filled clearing in a forest. But even this cannot banish the sense of agitation, the mood becoming more chromatic and nervous as the strings wind their melodies around each other.
String, from 2007, is more inventive still – like a deconstructed fugue in which the players pass back and forth short phrases that unravel and blur. Pawn (2004) sticks most doggedly to rhythmic unison, yet its textures are the most disparate and contemplative. Fitkin’s affinity for strings is clear in this most transparent of writing, and the Sacconi Quartet draws out its wealth of beauty.