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Edward Cowie
In Flight Music
String Quartets Nos. 3, 4 & 5

Kreutzer Quartet
Peter Sheppard Skærved, Mihailo Trandafilovski violins
Morgan Goff viola, Neil Heyde cello

NMC D222

D147 Cover
Edward Cowie describes himself as 'the musical equivalent of a plein air visual artist', with compositions evolving from sketches or paintings done in situ.   The natural world is inspiration for much of his music and on this album he focuses on flight; mainly of birds and insects.   In String Quartet No. 3 'In Flight Music' he adds contrast with two flying-machine-titled movements Hang-gliders and Vapour Trails.

String Quartet No.5 'Birdsong Bagatelles' features 24 brief movements, which collectively cover all the major and minor keys of the chromatic scale.   Each piece is named after a bird (Wren, Blackbird, Magpie &3133;) but Cowie avoids the Messiaen-style approach and instead focuses on the visual displays of birds and their habitat, rather than bird song.

String Quartet No.4 explores mortality.   The quartet plays a continuous, slowly ascending emotional and sensual 'hill-climb', which ends with a hymn-like theme.

The Kreutzer Quartet has forged an enviable reputation as one of the Europe's most dynamic and innovative string quartets.   They are the dedicatees of numerous works, and over many years have forged creative partnerships with composers including Sir Michael Tippett, David Matthews, Michael Finnissy, Judith Weir, and Haflidi Hallgrimsson.   They have a particularly strong relationship to a cross-section of leading American composers, having collaborated intensively with George Rochberg in the last few years of his life, as long as working closely with figures as Elliott Schwartz, and the prolific symphonist Gloria Coates.   As recording artists they have won critical acclaim for their discs on the Naxos, Metier, and Chandos labels.   They are Artists in Association at Quartet at York University, and at Wiltons Music Hall.   Their work in collaboration with art galleries has garnered much attention, and large audiences, particularly their annual residency at the Tate Gallery, St Ives

      String Quartet No.3 'In Flight Music' (1982-83, rewritten 2010)
  1. Hang-gliders (Stanwell Park, NSW Australia)       4'40
  2. Vapour Trails       7'10
  3. Hummingbird Hawk Moths (Maurens, France)       5'01
  4. Raptor Thermals - mainly Eagles (Dordogne France)       6'49

  5. String Quartet No.4 (1984, rewritten 2010)       17'40

      String Quartet No.5 'Birdsong Bagatelles' (2003-4)
  6. Grey Heron       1'39
  7. Mute Swan       1'35
  8. Coot       1'18
  9. Mallard       1'53
10. Black-headed Gull       1'28
11. Kingfisher       2'22
12. Wren       0'67
13. Robln       1'09
14. Song Thrush       1'15
15. Blackbird       1'20
16. Chaffinch       0'58
17. Blue Tit       1'27
18. Woodpigeon       1'31
19. Cuckoo       1'28
20. Green Woodpecker       1'30
21. Bullfinch       1'17
22. Jay       0'53
23. Tawny Owl       2'05
24. Rook       1'21
25. Kestrel       0'54
26. Lapwing       0'44
27. Partridge       1'01
28. Skylark       1'46
29. Magpie       1'01

      Total Time: 74'28

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