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 ...) 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.
Peter Sheppard Skærved, Mihailo Trandafilovski violins
Morgan Goff viola, Neil Heyde cello
'the music has a lighter-than-air transparency to it, constantly changing and renewing itself.' The Guardian
‘these finely wrought, idiomatically written and often quite beautiful works ... generously repay repeated hearings.’ MusicWeb International
'The Kreutzer Quartet bring a transparent, wiry sound to In Flight Music, filling its carefully-wrought textures with light.' BBC Music Magazine
'Cowie's music does sound natural, and in ways far more elusive and compelling than simply mimicking the sounds of that sunny garden.' Gramophone
'all four musicians play with impressive technical precious and unified ensemble ... the disc's sound quality and balance are excellent.' Fanfare Magazine
This recording was made possible with funds provided by:
Dr Peter and Anna Rousch • Dr Michael and Adrian Quilter
Linde Hogg • Virginia Arnott • Barbara and Ron Pearce
John Fuller and Dr Andrew Brown • Mirjam Koenig • Stephen Plaistow
Recorded at St John the Baptist Church, Aldbury, Hertfordshire 22 October 2014, 15 April 2015, 23 September 2015
PETER SHEPPARD SKÆRVED Recording Producer
JONATHAN HASKELL (Astounding Sounds) Recording Engineer & editing
EDWARD COWIE Music Supervision