I’m always wary of liner notes that read like manifestos. Iván Eröd was a Hungarian composer who was inspired by Bela Bartok and Zoltan Kodaly. His music incorporated some of their concepts while remaining primarily tonal.
The booklet is full of things like, “[Eröd] broke with the dogmas of the then-prevalent avant-garde and also refused to align with an ultraconservative tonal language…” And each of the three quartets gets an exhaustive analysis. “..based on a multi-layered diatonic-model tonality..” and such like.
But none of that really matters. A minority of listeners pick up on arch forms and gapped scales. What matters is the emotional experience. Doe these works have something to say? And is that communicated to the listener?
I would say yes to both. The three quartets were written over a wide span of time. String Quartet No. 1 was composed by a 21-year old Eröd in 1954. The second was written in 1980, and the third quartet in 2003.
The three quartets show the growth of the composer. String Quartet No. 1 is very much a Bartokian work, with modal harmonies and melodic motifs borrowed from Hungarian folk music. In the second, the influences are more fully integrated.
The third quartet is the work of a master. Eröd skillfully weaves lines together in complex polyphony.
Bottom line: all three quartets are finely-crafted works that can be enjoyed for their own merits. I’d recommend listening to the recording all the way through before reading a word of the liner notes.
While I enjoyed the music, I didn’t like the recording itself. The strings sound a little too bright, with an almost metallic edge. The ensemble — as recorded — doesn’t completely blend together. I think pulling the mics back might have helped with that.
Iván Eröd: String Quartets