The Alcan Quartet returns with a milestone recording featuring the compositions of two giants of Canada’s 20th-century music scene, Glenn Gould and Sir Ernest MacMillan. Though better known for their roles as pianist and conductor respectively, the compositions featured on this recording—Gould’s String Quartet, opus 1, and MacMillan’s String Quartet in C minor and Two Sketches on French Canadian Airs—are important contributions to the Canadian chamber music repertoire.
Gould’s String Quartet in F minor was composed between 1953 and 1955, as he was preparing his landmark first recording of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Described by Gould as “a gigantically developed allegro movement from a classical sonata,” the quartet represents an astonishing intellectual mosaic of musical aesthetics.
MacMillan’s Quartet in C minor, one of the jewels in the Canadian chamber music repertoire, was composed when he was just 21 years old and was first performed in 1925 by the Hart House Quartet. His Two Sketches for Strings was composed in 1927 and is based on two French Canadian folksongs, Notre Seigneur en pauvre and À Saint-Malo beau port de mer. The symphonic version of this piece became one of MacMillan’s most frequently played works.