“It turned out as something wonderful. The kind of thing that brings a smile to your lips at the hour of death.” Sibelius wrote his string quartet ‘Intimate Voices’ during a period of crisis, both financial and health. As it turned out, the hour of his death was almost 50 years away, but his analysis of his last great chamber work as ‘something wonderful’ certainly holds true.
‘Intimate Voices’ is a perfect musical arch that reaches across five movements – from the sheer delicacy of the opening to the frenzied finale. At the centre of the work stands an exquisite slow movement, marked with the ‘voces intimae’ inscription that gives the quartet its name. Flinders’ cellist Zoe Knighton describes this movement as the “heart and soul of the quartet … The layering of two sublimely beautiful themes works its way through to the absolute stillness of the ending – a true ‘hold your breath’ moment.”
This album also presents the early A minor quartet – a work in which we can hear the influences of Beethoven, Grieg and Mendelssohn, but also the emergence of the true and distinctive Sibelius sound.
2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius, and the Flinders Quartet have spent the year immersed in his much-neglected chamber music – including travelling to Sibelius’ homeland, Finland, to perform all of his works for string quartet. This recording is the culmination of that project, and the latest album from one of Australia’s most respected ensembles.
JEAN SIBELIUS 1865–1957
String Quartet No. 4 in D minor, ‘Voces Intimae’ (Intimate Voices)
1 I. Andante – Allegro molto moderato
2 II. Vivace
3 III. Adagio di molto
4 IV. Allegretto (ma pesante)
5 V. Allegro
String Quartet No. 2 in A minor
6 I. Andante – Allegro
7 II. Adagio ma non tanto
8 III. Vivace
9 IV. Allegro