Inspired by the worlds of literature and nature, composer Michael Matthews, in his Ravello Records release, STRING QUARTETS, follows in the tradition of such 20th-century composers as Webern and Shostakovich, using his expressive musical language to explore existential and humanistic discourses about society, nature, and our place as individuals in the world.
Performed by the Clearwater String Quartet, many of these works highlight the sharp contrasts, intensity, and varying textures of Matthews' style. At times, the music is mysterious and brooding, at other times it is intense, angular, and frenetic. The composer says of his music, "I want to compel listeners to step beyond the everyday and to dwell for a while in images of paradox, to consider the ever-changing tapestry of life." Reflecting on personal and societal conditions, Matthews' music is serious, intelligent, complex in thematic structure, and rich in motivic relationships. His String Quartet No. 2 is energetic and dramatic, recalling the Second Viennese School, while Miniatures focuses on exploration and discovery from a distinctly North American perspective. The string quartet genre provides a fertile and transparent vehicle for Matthews's music, with its dark timbre and textures emphasizing the clarity, tension, and brilliance of his works.
Professor Emeritus at the Marcel A. Desautels Faculty of Music at the University of Manitoba, Michael Matthews is a conductor, a founding member of the chamber ensemble Thira, and a founder and artistic director of the GroundSwell new music series in Winnipeg.