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Amy I productions
Excellent, This New Orford!
The Orford Quartet was founded at the arts centre of that name in 1965 and remained in existence until 1991 despite some tempestuous changes of personnel. Formed two years ago, the New Orford Quartet “arose from the fame and tradition of its glorious predecessor,” according to the program of the concert the group gave Monday evening in the little church of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, at the Lanaudière Festival.
Even though Orford and Lanaudière do not operate in the same territory, they are competitors, and you’ll have to admit there is something wryly amusing about meeting up with them under the same roof.
Be that as it may, I must say that in a mere two years this “junior” Orford has achieved a level of technique, sound quality, blend and an expressive richness that required a quarter of a century of the former group. What we heard Monday evening was of the highest level, equalling in all respects what the Ladies’ Morning and Pro Musica purvey us from abroad. The two violinists alternate as first violin, and the idea, patterned after quartets like the Emerson, is stimulating. The cellist’s supple, expressive sound also deserves to be singled out.
Part of Monday’s program had been performed recently at Orford and in Lachine. First on the program was Blanc dominant, by Ana Sokolovic. The work was commissioned by the Molinari Quartet, who premiered it in 1998. (Oddly enough, this detail was only mentioned in the English (!) section of the program.) The Molinaris played the 15-minute piece again at least twice. It is still quite listenable, with its glissandos, pizzicatos, harmonics, ponticello and other sound effects. Nevertheless, the composer borrows excessively from Bartók.
The two main works were Beethoven’s Op. 135 and Schubert’s D. 887 (and not D. 885, as stated in the program). The daring idiom of these two composers’ last quartets, both dating from 1826, plunges us into a disturbing, abstract world. This choice of repertoire indicates a seriousness on the part of the New Orford Quartet that I do not recall having remarked in their predecessors.
There was a power failure in the Beethoven just as the performers were about to launch into the Finale, with its famous “Muss es sein? - Es muss sein!” (Must it be? - It must be!). The concert continued by candlelight, and electricity was restored at the end of the Schubert.
Applauded and called back for an encore, the group played more Beethoven: the Cavatina from the Op. 130.
The New Orford’s first recording, on the Bridge label, was launched on this occasion. It contains the same two Beethoven and Schubert quartets.
Jonathan Crow confirmed that he is leaving Montreal to become the concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony. He takes up his post in September but will stay on with the quartet and continue his teaching at McGill for a time.
NEW ORFORD STRING QUARTET - Jonathan Crow and Andrew Wan (violins), Eric Nowlin (viola) and Brian Manker (cello). Monday evening, church of Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, as part of the 34th Lanaudiére Festival.
Blanc dominant (1998) - Sokolovic
Quartet No. 16, in F Major, Op. 135 (1826) - Beethoven
Quartet No. 15, in G Major, Op. 161, D. 887 (1826) - Schubert
Richard Todd, 07/18/11
It’s difficult to assess a string quartet until you’ve heard them play Beethoven. The New Orfords obliged with the very last thing that Beethoven wrote, the Quartet in F, op. 135, and did wonderfully by it.
Theirs was no cookie-cutter interpretation; on the other hand, there was nothing radical about it. It was just eminently musical and paid attention to a few details, particularly contrapuntal balance in certain episodes that are not often done in quite the same way.
The slow movement was serenely beautiful. The finale was a wonder too...
The program concluded with Tchaikovsky’s Quartet no. 3 in E-flat. It’s probably the least familiar of the composer’s three, though Saturday’s performance made one wonder why. It has no Andante cantabile, of course; in fact the slow movement in this one is labeled Andante funebere e doloroso. Still it’s a solid and engaging work with a minimum of Tchaikovskian excesses.
All in all, the New Orford String Quartet seems to be a worthy successor to the original group. Let’s hope we hear them again rather sooner than later.
The Montreal Gazette
Arthur Kaptainis, 07/27/09
The world was made in six days. String quartets are supposed to take longer. But here was the New Orford String Quartet, sounding sweet, balanced and technically unassailable on Saturday, less than a week after their members, all past or present orchestra players, met for the first time.
The first foray, in Haydn’s Op. 20 No. 2, showed what they could do together (in the operatic unisons of the Adagio) and independently (in the fugue of the finale). Both the sagely moderate tempo of the first movement and the superbly controlled hush of that fugue bespoke the sophistication of the ensemble.
Andrew Wan, tonally subtle, played first violin in this. Jonathan Crow took over in Sir Ernest MacMillan’s String Quartet of 1924, speaking forthrightly. There were ardent lines in the slow movement for Eric Nowlin, playing a walnutty 1700 Matteo Goffriller viola. Cellist Brian Manker provided warm support or soulful comment as the occasion demanded. Everyone clearly relished the opportunity to play this romantic Canadian classic. Lustily applauded in the Orford Arts Centre, the concert was true to the Orford name in its beauty and refinement. Indeed, there was no trace of roughness anywhere. How will these fellows fare in a night of Bartók? The original Orford Quartet, leaner in tone, could swing both ways.
Anyway, the new group has begun its career auspiciously. Do we really have to wait a year for the second concert?
American Record Guide
Edmonton concert review, Bill Rankin, 12/4/11
New Orford String Quartet
Several of the relatively new Canadian string quartets I have heard over the past few years have lacked an excellent foundation to their sound. Too often the viola and bass lines are faint, the performers resembling mimes, as the violins dominate and create a vaguely irritating imbalance, whether the players seem emotionally engaged or not. The New Orford Quartet, established in 2009, has the balance I've been craving and a performance demeanor that exudes consummate musicianship and a commitment to entertaining without fuss.
The New Orford, founded at the Orford Arts Centre in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, is composed of four male string players with a history of distinguished accomplishments. Jonathan Crow, 33, was the Montreal Symphony's concertmaster for four years in the early 2000s and was appointed the Toronto Symphony's concertmaster last summer. Andrew Wan, 27, who splits first and second violin duties with Crow, is co-concertmaster of the Montreal Symphony.
But it was cellist Brian Manker's anchoring presence that won me over in the ensemble's last concert of their eight-concert tour of Western Canada, which began in Victoria and ended in a cozy Edmonton venue on MacEwan University's Alberta College campus on December 4. Manker, the Montreal Symphony's principal cellist and also a member of the Adorno Quartet, plays an instrument made in 2005; but its tone and his touch are rich and assured, and he gives the group a ground that reinforces everything else that is impressive about this ensemble's playing.
The New Orford has won several glowing reviews for its first CD (see Nov/Dec 2011) that included Schubert's String Quartet No. 15 and Beethoven's No. 16, which opened the Edmonton concert.
Their interpretation of Beethoven's last quartet was most captivating, whether tender or grave. Wan played the first violin line without affectation; but it was Manker who wonderfully established the mood right from the opening of the first movement, which is as sweet and lyrical as anything in Beethoven's youthful Opus 18 quartets. They approached the famous third movement with stillness and sublimity. Even the second movement, marked vivace, played around the edges of stateliness rather than inclining toward the intrepid. In the final movement, Manker once again reinforced the high seriousness of the grave ma non troppo tratto instruction, before the group delivered a leisurely take on the concluding allegro theme.
The New Orford, whose name revives memories of the original Canadian Orford Quartet that travelled the world from 1965 to 1991, is committed to playing contemporary Canadian music as well as the classics. For its tour it included Serbo-Canadian composer Anna Sokolovic's Blanc Dominant (1999), an eight-part work with many of the conventional features of late 20th-Century string quartet writing. Sokolovic is hardly demagogic in her use of an idiom that often favors harsh agitated chromaticism and angular ideas that strain for musical attention in self-consciously eccentric directions. She is secure in her commitment to her idiom, and the New Orford gave her piece a vigorous performance.
The concert, sponsored by the Edmonton Recital Society, concluded with Brahms's String Quintet No. 2, no doubt included in the program because it calls for a second viola, allowing the founder of the recital society, Aaron Au (a former member of the Edmonton Symphony) to join the group.
Crow took the first chair for the Brahms. He is a tall man who would have no trouble looking over an NFL offensive line. Wan is close to a foot shorter. With Crow in the first chair, the group's energy tilted toward the first violin. The Brahms was solid, but it didn't have the qualities I detected in their performance of the Beethoven.
Despite playing together only occasionally, the New Orford is a group worth watching for.
John Terauds, 02/10/12
Yesterday's New Orford Quartet performance closes open Schubert question
Last week I tried to get inside Toronto pianist Boris Zarankin's head regarding his hauntingly still performance of two Schubert piano sonatas (details here). Then I heard him play the A minor Piano Sonata D. 784 at Off Centre Music Salon on Sunday, as I and the rest of the audience at Glenn Gould Studio sat mesmerized.
This really was a translation into music of much greater existential issues, of the undying wonder people have of the meaning of life, and how death is an unbidden yet inevitable visitor.
Zarankin told me how his ideal piano sound for the sonatas was inspired by hearing the golden hues of the Vienna Philharmonic performing at the Musikverein. He describes Schubert's piano music in symphonic terms, and tries to tease out a layered sound like the one created by many different instruments playing together.
I couldn't help mulling this over after sitting through a stunning performance of Schubert's final quartet, the G Major, D.887, by New Orford Quartet at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre at lunchtime yesterday (the quartet is on their Juno-nominated album). Besides the thrill of seeing and hearing four high-powered principals from the Toronto and Montreal Symphony Orchestras playing as one, I was struck by how these four artists were also able to suspend time and capture this listener's attention with a semblance of complete stillness.
Had Zarankin been there to play Schubert on the piano, we would have found the interpretations uncannily similar.
I can only come to one conclusion after this: Boris Zarankin is right, and the pianists who try to inject overt virtuosity and forward motion into their interpretations may have to think again.
The Ottawa Citizen
Richard Todd, 04/19/12
Review: New Orford String Quartet delivers outstanding evening of music
REVIEW: New Orford String Quartet
Saint Andrew's Church
Reviewed April 18.
OTTAWA — The New Orford String Quartet gave a concert in St. Andrew's Wednesday evening as part of the Canadian Chamber Players' series. They played quartets by Mozart, Bartók and, with violist Guylaine Lemaire cellist Julian Armour, the Brahms Opus 18 Sextet.
Mozart's last three quartets are generally reckoned half a notch below the six the composer dedicated to Haydn some years earlier, but they come from Mozart's years of greatest maturity and each is a superb creation.
The F Major, K. 590 that opened Wednesday's concert was his last string quartet. In fact he was to write "only" 36 more works in the 17 months that remained of his short life.
The Orford rendition was robust and commanding without ever being overbearing. It was far from a cookie-cutter performance and the musicians did bring much individual insight to it. You might easily imagine that this was very close to what Mozart would have wished to hear.
Bartók's String Quartet no. 3 was written 86 years ago but for many listeners it is still among his three or four most challenging works. (It's no picnic for the musicians either.) Strewn with dissonant parallel progressions and similar devices, it is nonetheless full of visceral excitement and even moments of great beauty.
The New Orfords' reading was altogether outstanding and if there were some people in Wednesday's audience who had yet to completely "get" the piece, their understanding may have been advanced a fair bit on this occasion.
It benefited from the best kind of quartet playing, in which the ensemble is completely integrated and yet each player's individual contribution is distinct and full of character. And this is all the more remarkable as these musicians came together less than three years ago.
The second half of the program was given to a golden performance of the Brahms Sextet in B-flat, op. 18. This is one of Brahms's most popular chamber work and likely the most popular of all string sextets.
The very same qualities that made the Bartók so successful served the Brahms as well, though the sound was somewhat different. The textures created by six instruments are naturally thicker than with four. But, details aside, this performance was a worthy conclusion to an outstanding evening of music.
Classical Music Sentinel
Jean-Yves Duperron, 08/11
Jonathan Crow (Violin), Andrew Wan (Violin), Eric Nowlin (Viola) and Brian Manker (Cello) perform this music as if their lives depended on it, as if one lapse of attention, one second of distraction, one minor sag in the tension, could bring the whole edifice crashing down. They even seem to hold their breaths suspended as a group, and feel the pulse of the music as one. Their grip on the varying levels of expression at their disposal is flawless, as is their control of dynamics throughout. But what is most wonderful about all this is the ease with which they deliver this effect. Nothing ever sounds forced or calculated. And this exacting approach is a constant throughout the music on this CD from start to finish. This disc marks the New Orford's debut recording. Bridge Records could not have picked a better program to launch their recording career, nor could they have chosen a better ensemble to perform this program. A match made in heaven!
S. James Wegg , 07/24/11
Second on the disc, the F Major Quartet had more to say about the music and the performers. From violist Eric Nowlin’s opening phrase, notice was immediately served that this group is more than the sum of its individual parts. A compelling sense of line, purpose and attention to detail (almost all of the grace notes seemed fashioned on the same forge) made the Allegretto a constant pleasure. The frequent cross rhythms of the Vivace were tossed off with aplomb even if the trap of shifting the pulse to the first of the eighth notes snared the talented players from time to time. The dynamic plan was also well executed until the very last note. Curiously, carefully, the composer never asks for more than forte (knowing full well what lies ahead). This sonic boom seemed at odds with the markings, startling the ear rather than bidding a sturdy adieu. Then, the magic. If just the Lento assai, cantabile e tranquillo had been recorded, the disc would be well worth purchasing. Establishing the mystical world of D-flat major proved yet again the truth of the claim that the string quartet is chamber music’s most homogenous instrument. Nowlin, followed by 2nd violin Jonathan Crow (the violinists regularly share the first desk as was demonstrated in the Schubert), 1st violin Andrew Wan then cellist Brian Manker combined more to establish an aura than just a tonal centre. Wan took the melodic lead, crafting a truly mesmerizing line that belied its apparent simplicity and fully fulfilled the master’s instruction to quietly sing. Merci mille fois. The concluding “Must it be?”; “It Must be!” motifs were worked out most convincingly.
The balance was outstanding (ideally captured by Martha de Francisco, Doyuen Ko and Jeremy Tusz), as witness the beautifully crafted Andante un poco moto with its incredibly varied dynamic/dramatic range.
With so much going for them, here’s to many more collaborations between the New Orford String Quartet and Bridge Records—there’s much more Beethoven ahead and listeners eagerly awaiting their views.
Mike D. Brownell, 09/11
Performing these magnificent works is the New Orford String Quartet, an ensemble that shares many of the positive attributes of the original Orford String Quartet. The group's two violinists, who share duties on the first stand, possess a bright, penetrating sound that is tempered by the punchy, rich tone produced by cellist Brian Manker. The resulting tone is balanced both in tone and in volume, providing a uniquely clear perspective on every line of the score. Like the senior Orfords, the New Orford's interpretations are driven and vivacious while still achieving moments of complete serenity as in the Beethoven Lento. Bridge captures the appealing sound and youthful energy with a warm, detailed, and developed recorded sound. Listeners can only hope that the New Orford will continue to commit the remainder of both Schubert's and Beethoven's quartets to recordings.
5 out of 5 stars
SCHUBERT String Quartet No. 15. BEETHOVEN String No. 16 • New Orford Str Qrt • BRIDGE 9363 (74:47)
This would be an impressive release for any seasoned ensemble; all the more so then that it marks the New Orford String Quartet's debut album. An ensemble entering into the fray of such highly competitive arenas as Schubert's and Beethoven's quartets often raises the question critics invariably ask, "Do these performances offer new insights or have something special to say?" To that I can answer with a most emphatic yes.
"Unstable" is a key word in describing Schubert's G-Major Quartet—harmonically unstable in its vacillation between major and minor and its undermining of tonality; rhythmically unstable in its strange leaping figures and shuddering tremolos; and most of all, emotionally unstable in its dizzying mood swings, evidence of a mind in the grip of a serious mental disorder. Much of Schubert's private life and personal affairs has been revealed in recent years, but in many ways the boy-man remains an enigma.
Save for a fragment of a string quartet in F Major that appears in the Schubert catalog as D 998, the G-Major Quartet is the end of the line for the composer's string quartets, though it would not be his last great chamber work for strings. That would be the String Quintet in C Major, which came two years later, in 1828, not long before his death. In a number of ways, this G-Major work, the last of Schubert's completed quartets, picks up where its immediate predecessor, the "Death and the Maiden" Quartet of 1824, left off. I'm reminded of what Mahler is reputed to have said in reply to someone who had asked him why the funeral march in his First Symphony was so much different from the funeral march in Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony. "Ah," replied Mahler, "Beethoven describes the mourner; I depict the corpse." Gruesome as the medical examiner's lab imagery may be, Schubert's G-Major Quartet strikes me as the Maiden on the autopsy table.
I don't wish to go down the road of this analogy too far by saying that the New Orford Quartet's performance resembles an autopsy on the deceased, but the ensemble's reading does have a laser-sharp focus to it that lays bare every strand and fiber of the piece. The players take their time and exercise meticulous care, as well as respect, in cutting through and folding back the many layers of tissue. Oftentimes, performances of this work can have a frantic edge to them; I'm thinking, for example, of the recording by the Hagen Quartet. But tension built more slowly over longer arches can turn the emotional screws even tighter than sudden explosive outbursts. The New Orford's reading of Schubert's G-Major Quartet is an exemplary study in how to put the most elegant and refined playing to the purpose of delivering the most upsetting news—tragedy without the hysterics.
It's obvious from the above interview that cellist Brian Manker and I don't see completely eye-to-eye (or, should I say, don't hear completely ear-to-ear?) on Beethoven's final complete quartet, the F Major, op. 135. His speculation about the connection between the es in the Muss es sein introduction to the last movement and Es in German being the designation for E♭, which could be an internal musical joke referring back to an event in the first movement, is certainly interesting and worth entertaining. But there is another joke, less abstruse, that has been connected to the Muss es sein incipit, and that is a scribbled note in which Beethoven is allegedly complaining about his housekeeper insisting on putting too much starch in his shirts: "Must it be? It must be." This, in combination with the actual musical content of the movement, has always led me to hear the whole thing as a fairly lighthearted, even silly, romp. I think we would agree, however, that the Lento assai movement is one of Beethoven's profoundest utterances.
The New Orford's tempo at the outset of the quartet is a bit slower than I'm accustomed to hearing it. But it's not one of the works Beethoven provided metronome markings for—only his quartets through op. 95 contain his own markings—and the first movement is marked Allegretto, so the New Orford's reading may be entirely justified. But something else emerges at this slightly slower tempo that I find interesting and quite delightful, and that is a sly, slightly underplayed, tongue-in-cheek humor that tickles the funny bone in a different, perhaps more sophisticated way than other, more slapstick approaches.
Take, for example, the hiccups in the cello part that come shortly into the development section following the double bar and change of key signature to one sharp. Not a few cellists take these for rude, sophomoric belches, which, admittedly, is funny, especially if you're into high school hijinks. But Manker sees these more as little burps that slip out embarrassedly in polite company, making them all the funnier for their lack of social propriety and grace. It puts me in mind of the long-circulated tale, 1601, attributed to Mark Twain, in which he is privy to a conversation among Francis Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, Ben Johnson, and 16-year-old Francis Beaumonte engaged in sniffing out who broke wind in company of the Queen. If memory serves, I think the culprit turns out to be the Queen herself. Twain, of course (whether he was the author of this particular farce or not) can always be counted on to entertain and edify and, so too, I think, can the playing of the New Orford Quartet.
This is my first encounter with the New Orford Quartet, and I must say I am stunned by its remarkable grasp of each of the very final quartets of these composers. I will dispense with the details of performance quality by describing the New Orford's playing succinctly as having perfection of intonation, superb tone quality, and unsurpassed clarity of musical line, while offering ensemble playing of the finest character. They sound like a quartet that has been together for at least 20 years rather than the two years that have actually elapsed.
The nervous character of the first movement of the Schubert quartet, brought about by the abundance of 16th- and 32nd-note tremolo, is more fully revealed here than in most other performances that I've encountered. In the second movement, the fortissimo that begins at bar 44 (at 3: 08) and proceeds to bar 81 is gripping in intensity and unsparingly reveals the tonal uncertainty that suffuses these 38 bars. In the fourth movement, there are two especially noteworthy aspects of the New Orford's fine playing. First, there is an extraordinarily beautiful, ear-catching second violin passage in C♯-Minor (starting at bar 323, at 5:27) that is played here with great clarity and expressiveness. Second, near the end of the movement, in the forte fortissimo tutti (from bar 672 to bar 679, starting at 10:19), the viola's primary harmonization and second violin's secondary harmonization, against repeated notes by the other two instruments, is sufficiently discernable to make it thrilling to hear (the Juilliard String Quartet in its Schubert G Major does it even better).
In the Beethoven quartet, tempos are somewhat relaxed in the first three movements. This interpretive choice enables the listener to savor each of the four musical lines as the movements proceed, but never causes the music to drag. The third movement's slow tempo is properly observed, as indicated by the Lento assai Beethoven assigns to these D♭-variations. The cello opening in the final movement ("Muss es sein?") is not played piano as marked but is played mezzo forte, giving it a sardonic cast. I like this departure from the score, although it may not have been what Beethoven intended. The second repeat in the final movement ("at the pleasure of the players," per the composer) is omitted.
The New Orford String Quartet turns out a very gratifying performance of Schubert's last quartet and a very interesting performance of Beethoven's last quartet. You don't want to miss out on this disc, and I want to hear more from the New Orford.
Lee Passarella, 09/14/11
Carrying on the legacy of the Orford String Quartet of Canada.
SCHUBERT: String Quartet No. 15 in G Minor D. 887, Op. 161; BEETHOVEN: String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135 – New Orford String Quartet – Bridge 9363, 74:57 [Distr. by Albany]
This is a rare pairing—very rare: I have yet to find another disc featuring these two works. Yet it makes sense; here, we have the final quartets of the last great Classical masters, the Op. 135 being Beethoven's final extended composition in any form. It's also the shortest of the Late Quartets, proportioned more like the composer's Early Quartets, Nos. 1-6. That makes Op. 135 a perfect discmate for the Schubert, which is not only the Viennese master's longest quartet but the longest written up to that time (1826) and for many years to come.
The Quartet No. 15 was too long and too unusual in character for contemporary tastes and remained unpublished for twenty years, until put in print by Anton Diabelli, the man to whose fund-raising effort for widows and orphans of the Napoleonic Wars both Schubert and Beethoven contributed variations on an original waltz theme (Beethoven famously supplying 33). The notes to the present recording—written by Brian Manker, cellist with the New Orford String Quartet—make this and other interesting parallels between these two Vienna-based masters who, strangely, never met. Manker also draws parallels between the two quartets represented here, but the contrasts between them are much more obvious. In fact, Schubert's work itself presents a constant study in contrasts, between major and minor keys, between very loud and very soft passages—often within a measure of one another. The result is a piece that can't help but sound fragmentary. Thus despite its rugged beauty, it's a hard work to hold together and bring off successfully in performance. The New Orford demonstrates that the best way to do this is to keep things moving and pay scrupulous attention to Schubert's tempo and dynamics markings. The result is a tough-minded, propulsive account that still manages to enshrine that beauty I referred to earlier.
Comparing this performance to the one by the Kuss Quartet on Onyx, which I reviewed earlier this summer, I find the former much more compelling. The Kuss has a tendency to distend the outer movements, especially the huge first movement, and to savor individual passages too much, applying rubato too freely. The New Orford plays the piece in an economical but right-sounding 47 minutes; the Kuss dawdles along at over 52 minutes, though it seems longer. Yet as I suggest, in the New Orford rendering neither beauty nor drama is sacrificed. This is a performance of rare intensity.
When I listened to the New Orford's Op. 135 for the first time, I was disappointed to find that the same economy didn't spill over into this performance. Here, the outer movements seemed to be taken at too slow a pace, Beethoven's opening Allegretto turned into a somewhat laggardly Andantino. Maybe I shouldn't have listened to the Beethoven right after the Schubert because on subsequent hearings I came to appreciate the New Orford's reading much more. There's the same sensitivity to Beethoven's markings as I found in the Schubert. But the New Orford seems to want to point up the contrasts between the two works, emphasizing the Gemütlichkeit and playfulness of Beethoven's music, though not at the expense of the more deeply affecting music of the last two movements. Beethoven headed the finale Der schwer gefaßte Entschluß ("The Difficult Resolution") and penned the words Muß es sein? ("Must it be?") above the notes of the slow introduction. Whatever cares Beethoven was wrestling with (and of course his deafness and rapidly declining health must have weighed heavily on his mind), he answers his own question with the words Es muß sein! ("It must be!"), thus apparently resigned to whatever lay in the future. Again, the New Orford brings melting beauty and intensity to the slow movement, Beethovenian spiritedness to the finale.
Bridge's sound recording, from the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, is a very good one, spacious and airy yet immediate. In fact, I wish the players had been miked a tad more distantly; those obbligato breath intakes get to be a bit wearing after a while. Still, this is a truly fine recording by a quartet that was formed just two years ago to carry on the legacy of the Orford String Quartet, which disbanded in 1991 after 26 years before the public. Here's hoping the New Orford String Quartet can make music for as long as—and even longer than—its famous namesake!