Finnissy: Music for String Quartet


Catalogue No: MSVCD 92011
EAN/UPC: 809730201127
Release Date: June 1998
Discs: 1
Total Playing Time: 65:51

Part of Metier’s ongoing series of recordings of the music of Michael Finnissy, one of Britain’s most accomplished and acclaimed contemporary composers.

Gramophone Magazine says (December 2013) that this is THE ESSENTIAL FINNISSY RECORDING

Track Listing

    Michael Finnissy:

  1. Plain Harmony I (5:52)
  2. Plain Harmony II (1:22)
  3. Plain Harmony III (2:20)
  4. Nobody’s Jig (19:27)
  5. Sehnsucht (2:54)
  6. Multiple Forms of Constraint (10:48)
  7. String Quartet (21:54)



“Seven of Finnissy’s works for string quartet. All of them are enigmatic, and in almost all of them he actively seeks to undermine in different ways the conventional quartet dynamic. The First String Quartet … continually feels poised to do something completely different, filling the music and the listener with nervous excitement. There’s something profoundly unsettling about this restrained little piece Sehnsucht. In ways difficult to fathom or articulate, there’s something almost unbearably moving about it.”

” —Simon Cummings
The Sunday Times

This second impressive Finnissy disc from Metier includes most of his music for string quartet, though since he is much given to what Grainger called “elastic scoring” – an approach allowing a piece to be performed by different groupings – it is hard to make a definitive list. The first item, Plain Harmony (1993), is […]

” —Paul Driver

This is rather special. If variety is the spice of life, then this disc is hot. And so are the Kreutzer Quartet, whose commitment and spirit make this demanding music sound clear, fluent and gritty. A must for anyone interested in new music, or in the evolution of the string quartet as a genre.

” —Fabrice Fitch
Avant No.11

…a bracing experience. This is a rough-hewn and extremely sturdy music, profoundly honest about what it is and what it’s doing. ‘String Quartet’ may be the most unrelaxing piece of music I’ve heard of late. And that, though it sounds like nothing of the sort, is a compliment!

” —Brian Marley
The Wire

Finnissy is stretching his players – irrational timings and unexpected intervals – so there’s none of the pop condescension of boom boom Minimalism. Finnissy hollows out the romantic legacy from the inside, spinning lines so tense they sound as if they are traced on a bomb ready to explode. Perhaps the febrile beauty admired by Finnissy’s devotees is not so much the pinnacle of art as the ring of truth.

” —Ben Watson