Composers: Andrew Anderson
Compositions: Piano quartets Nos 1 and 2
Performers: Australian Piano Quartet
Catalogue Number: Navona NV6235
There’s a sense of familiarity about Australian composer Andrew Anderson’s music. Because his sound world taps into the romantic DNA of Chopin or Dvořák we get the sense that we know his works. But his discography is tiny – a couple of orchestral works recorded in the early 2000s and a recent recording of the first piano quartet led by Ian Munro which was glowingly reviewed in Limelight.
The Australian Piano Quartet’s coupling of Anderson’s two quartets is especially welcome. The first, completed in 2010, opens meditatively before the strings of violinist Kristian Winther, violist James Wannan and cellist Thomas Rann join Daniel de Borah’s piano for a lush throwback to another era. This is unashamedly tonal music, attractive and often evoking the spirit of Dvořák. The slightly eerie chromaticism and counterpoint of the second movement is dispelled by a folk-dance scherzo. Dvořák also inhabits the finale with its dumka-like opening and furiant ending.
In the two-movement Second Quartet (2018) hymn-like chords from the strings lend a placid, floating feeling before some playful interaction between piano and strings takes over. There’s a contemplative feeling throughout this piece, with overlapping melodies and peaceful sunny passages, occasionally interrupted by dark clouds. This is a lovely disc, beautifully performed and recorded. It makes one hanker to hear his music played live.