Smetana, Sibelius, and the Dante Quartet

smetana-sibelius-and-the-dante-quartet“Though both Jean Sibelius and Bedrich Smetana are well-known for their contributions to the nationalistic movements in their respective countries, the semi-autobiographical quartets of both composers (two for Smetana, one for Sibelius) instead focus on dark, tragic aspects of their own lives. Smetana’s quartets highlight some of the positive events in his life, but are more a representation of the gradual march toward deafness and the decline of his career. Sibelius, who struggled with depression and isolation, writes an equally revealing depiction of his more private inner turmoil. Performing these three emotionally charged works is the equally emotive, demonstrative Dante Quartet. Conceptually, its playing is ideal for showing listeners the very raw emotions present in these scores.” [. . .]    –Mike D. Brownell, Allmusic

At Midnight with Andrew Kennedy and the Dante Quartet

ian-venables-at-midnight-songs-and-chamber-music“British composer Ian Venables, born in 1955, has been described as a songwriter in the tradition of Hubert Parry, Roger Quilter, Peter Warlock, and Gerald Finzi, and the comparison is apt. They were composers of modest talents, active generations before Venables; Parry, the earliest, died in 1918, and Finzi, the latest, in 1956. Venables’ music has much in common with the conservative English pastoralism that tended to characterize their work, and an informed listener unaware of the provenance of the music recorded here might reasonably place it early in the 20th century. It is skillfully written, and Venables has clearly invested it with deep feeling, so it should appeal to fans of post-Romantic English music.” [. . .]    —AllMusic