String Quartet No. 3

Ron Blessinger and Denise Huizenga-violins, Anna Schaum-viola, Hamilton Cheifetz–cello



One of music history’s great mysteries is how Roy Harris went from being one of America’s most widely performed and respected composers to someone whose music is almost never done and who gets referenced, if at all, only in passing in accounts of mid-century Americana, a broad stroke that does a disservice to the breadth of his compositional output. Last year, I flipped out over First Edition Music’s recording of his remarkable Violin Concerto, which ought to be a repertoire staple. This year it’s his String Quartet No. 3 from 1948 which is a series of four preludes and fugues that show Harris to be as adept at modern counterpoint as Hindemith and Shostakovich. The tragic third fugue, with its haunting chromaticism, is actually a fascinating historical parallel to the music that Shostakovich was writing on the other side of the Iron Curtain at the same time.


—FJO