August 20th 2008

Review from September 1999


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RAINIER, Priaulx.
String Quartet*;
Quanta for oboe and string trio;
String Trio;
Ploërmel for wind and percussionº.
   *Edinburgh Quartet, +Redcliffe Ensemble, ºRoyal Northern College of Music Wind Ensemble, Timothy Reynish.
Redcliffe Recordings. RR007 [60' 12"].

Read the complete review by David Wright


This is a welcome disc.

.... the String Quartet which I have admired for many years and, in fact, wrote an article about in the mid 1970s. It seemed to me then that Bartók's String Quartet No 5, a veritable masterpiece, lies behind Rainier's Quartet written some five years later. I love its weighty seriousness in the first movement, the joyful and gracious vivace, the thoughtful andante tranquillo and the concluding presto spiritoso. ... This music has a rare quality but I cannot tell you what it is.

Sound Sample:

String Quartet (1) Allegro molto serioso here

String Quartet (2) Vivace leggiero grazioso here

String Quartet (3) Andante tranquillo here

String Quartet (4) Andante tranquillo here

I remember the furore when Quanta was first broadcast and how the newspaper critics savaged the piece. .... The problem was that the music is abstract and like the superlative String Quartet it is very serious. Janet Caxton and her London Oboe Quartet premiered it and I was impressed by it then, as I am now. Robin Canter is the excellent oboist here.

Oboe Quartet (Quanta) here

The String Trio of 1966 is in one movement and explores the interval of a major ninth. It is another extraordinary piece in which Rainier's highly developed style is heard at its best. It has an amazing variety that adds to its interest including bright dissonances, regular changing metres and rhythms, a fascinating harmony that usually avoids the predictability of tonal centres and traditionalism.

String Trio here

Ploërmel was first performed at a BBC Promenade Concert in 1973. It is in eleven short sections alternating quick and slow music. The title refers to a place in North West France and the piece was inspired by local church bells and early morning light reflected by the stained glass windows. This is, of course, a different sound world altogether from the other pieces on the disc. The work is not a showpiece nor is it brassily vulgar but an exploration of each instrument's potential and the blending of their respective sounds. It is a complex and uneasy work.

Ploërmel for winds and percussion here

I find Rainier's music both challenging and highly absorbing. And I applaud its originality and courage.

From the review by David Wright

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