The Cassatt String Quartet
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCR671     Release Date: 2007-01-01

The Cassatt String Quartet: Muneko Otani, Sunghae Anna Lim, violins; Michiko Oshima, viola; Anna Cholakian, cello

In the nineteenth century, the string quartet was the scene of comparatively few radical gestures or departures. Excepting the phenomenal late quartets of Beethoven, or perhaps precisely because of their awesome presence, composers of the Romantic era treated the form with a certain reverence and caution. Turn-of-the-century masters like Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss avoided chamber music altogether, after some compulsory exercises in their student years. The future, it seemed lay elsewhere.

Then, a few years into the new century, all hell broke loose. In 1903 Charles Ives composed a Scherzo for String Quartet, subtitled “Holding Your Own,” in which each player in the group adopted independent tonalities and rhythms. Toward the end of the same decade Arnold Schoenberg let the atonal cat out of the bag in the third and fourth movements of his String Quartet No. 2 and Bartók’s violently dissonant middle-period quartets were not far behind. In the post–World War II music of Carter, Ligeti, Scelsi, and Lutoslawski, the string quartet became the site of the most astringent avant- garde experiments.

The compositions represented on this Cassatt Quartet program do not come up with a unanimous response to the quartet genre’s divided history. The works by Tina Davidson, Andrew Waggoner, and Daniel Godfrey participate in the twentieth-century continuum or mainstream that has it roots in the nineteenth, while Julia Wolfe and Eleanor Hovda mobilize some of the avant-garde techniques that have circulated since the Second World War. Yet all five pieces tell a story of tension and release, wandering and return; in all the pieces some reference to tonality serves as a guiding light. And they all have a sound-world of their own, in which technique of one kind or another is raised to the level of personal idiom.


This title, originally issued on the CRI label, is now available as a burn-on-demand CD (CD-R) or download in MP3/320, FLAC or WAV formats. CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print booklet or jewel case included. Liner notes are accessible via the link above.

Cassatt String Quartet

The Cassatt String Quartet

MP3/320 $9.99
FLAC $9.99
WAV $9.99
CD-R $9.99
CD-Rs come in a protective sleeve; no print material or jewel case included.
A *.pdf of the notes may be accessed here free of charge.
   Liner Notes

Track Listing

Cassandra Sings
Tina Davidson
Four Marys
Julia Wolfe
Song... (Strophic Variations for String Quartet)
Andrew Waggoner
Eleanor Hovda
Daniel S. Godfrey