Robert Starer: String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, & 3
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR856     Release Date: 2007-01-01
Miami String Quartet: Ivan Chan, violin; Cathy Meng Robinson, violin; Chauncey Patterson, viola; Keith Robinson, cello


Now that we have entered the new millenium, it becomes much easier to look back on the twentieth century, and see the artificiality of many of the divisions which have riven it. The serial versus neoclassic debate, the strugggles of traditionalists and experimentalists, the chasm between Uptown and Downtown — every one of these divisions, while real, nevertheless drowned out a constant hum of musical activity which didn’t fit either side’s agenda. Increasingly, we now hear only the echoes of these battles, the result being that another music from an entire generation and aesthetic bandwidth of composers, who never fell into easily defined postwar camps, is returning to critical awareness and appreciation. Most of these composers are fundamentally tonal in practice, have embraced certain aspects of American musical idioms, and have believed in more traditional ideals of classical craft. Some have been associated with midcentury nationalism (Copland, Thomson, Harris), others with more neoclassical ideals (Diamond, Persichetti, Schuman). Earlier on, it was easy for some to label them as “conservative” and dismiss them in light of the great radical innovations occurring almost daily. Now, it is easier to discern what was also progressive and individual in their art.

Robert Starer, born 1924 in Vienna, definitely inhabits this “creative middle.” Beginning his studies at the State Academy of Music, Hitler’s 1938 annexation of Austria sent him to Jerusalem, where he continued his studies at the Palestine Conservatoire, and then served in the British Royal Air Force during World War II. In 1947, he arrived in New York to study at Juilliard, and at Tanglewood in 1948 with Copland...

Starer'’s music, while part of that “creative middle,” is certainly not “middle of the road”. It blends elements that many think contradictory into a seamless whole. While its individuality may exist in slightly subtler aspects than in others’ showier experiments, its character and integrity are nonetheless evident. And by providing a living example of how supposedly exhausted musical means can remain fresh and communicative, the music is very much of this time, and forward-looking.

The three Starer string quartets form an unusual set of bookends for the composer’'s career to date. The First, written in 1947, remained his sole essay in the medium until 1995, when, after having heard the young Miami Quartet perform it in Woodstock, the composer was moved to write a new work for them. This was followed the next year by the Third also for the Miami. Suddenly Starer’'s quartet ouevre had tripled, a testimony to the inspirational power great performers can have over composers. -Robert Carl


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available for order from New World Records as an on-demand CD (CD-R). It can also be downloaded in MP3/320, FLAC and/or WAV format(s).

Miami String Quartet

Robert Starer: String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, & 3

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD $15.99

Track Listing

String Quartet No. 1: I. Allegro moderato
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 1: II. Andante Cantabile
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 1: III. Molto allegro
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 2: I. Moderato
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 2: II. Poco presto
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 2: III. Andante
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 2: IV. Mosso
Robert Starer
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String Quartet No. 3
Robert Starer
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