After completing his eighth symphony, Maxwell Davies declared publicly that it would be his last, and that chamber music would be his main preoccupation for the foreseeable future. His first major project is the set of 10 Naxos Quartets; the fourth and fifth will be heard in London for the first time later this month, while this release launches the cycle on disc. It's a promising beginning: Nos 1 and 2 are large-scale works (30 and 45 minutes respectively), which are very different in tone and suggest that Davies is still finding fresh expressive territory to explore.
The First is in three movements, the last of them very concise, while in the Second two massive movements enclose a pair of much shorter ones. There are classical models in the background, but the language is very recognisably Davies's own.