John Ramsay – String Quartets 1-4


Catalogue No: MSV 28528
EAN/UPC: 809730852824
Release Date: March 2012
Discs: 2
Total Playing Time: 87:01

John Ramsay is a professor of geology by profession but also a very serious composer, of both chamber and orchestral works. His style is chiefly tonal though he does utilise serial techniques on occasion. The four string quartets are perfect examples of the best of ‘post-modernist’ music, employing no artificial boundaries, but being pure self expression using the most appropriate musical forms. They are to some degree programmatic and thus Romantic in idiom too and thoroughly deserve a place in the chamber music repertoire.

The quartets (score and parts) are published by Brandon Music.

Track Listing

John Ramsay:

  1. String Quartet no. 1 in D minor – I. Allegro (4:59)
  2. String Quartet no. 1 in D minor – II. Molto moderato (5:53)
  3. IString Quartet no. 1 in D minor – III. Scherzo (5:41)
  4. String Quartet no. 1 in D minor – IV. Lento – rondo vivace (4:54)
  5. String Quartet no. 2 in E minor (“Shackleton”) – I. Moderato (3:22)
  6. String Quartet no. 2 in E minor (“Shackleton”) – II. Adagio (4:35)
  7. String Quartet no. 2 in E minor (“Shackleton”) – III. Adagio molto – funeral march (2:30)
  8. String Quartet no. 2 in E minor (“Shackleton”) – IV. Allegro, flamenco – adagio molto (6:22)
  9. String Quartet no. 3 in C major – I. Adagio – allegro con spirito (7:25)
  10. String Quartet no. 3 in C major – II. Adagio (6:29)
  11. String Quartet no. 3 in C major – III. Scherzi (6:01)
  12. String Quartet no. 3 in C major – IV. Andante moderato, ostinato (3:28)
  13. String Quartet no. 3 in C major – V.Allegro moderato (3:17)
  14. String Quartet no. 4 (“Charles Darwin”) (21:35)


Musical Opinion

John Ramsay is … on the basis of this CD, a highly talented composer. [The four quartets] are most accessible and deserving of attention… they are all such as to commend themselves to the intelligent music-lover. Strongly recommended. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

” —Robert Matthew-Walker
Musical Opinion

A notable contribution to the British quartet repertoire… well worth getting to know. All I can do is to recommend these discs very strongly. The performances seem excellent as is the recording quality, and the booklet notes are splendid. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

” —Alexander Leonard
Classical Music Sentinel

Sounds real, involved and borne by a living spirit..[No. 4] in particular has captured my unswerving attention. These masterful quartets are given here their world premiere recording by the distinguished Fitzwilliam String Quartet.

” —Jean-Yves Duperron
La Folia

Ramsay’s quartets reveal a deep understanding of and admiration for the genre’s giants. Ramsay shies away from contemporary trends – his music is vastly more distinctive.

” —Grant Chu Covell

The playing is excellent and enthusiastic. All four of John Ramsay’s String Quartets are worthy examples of the genre and undoubtedly deserve a place in the repertoire. They form an impressive cycle.

” —John France
Classical Lost And Found

While the music is intellectually challenging, it’s also very approachable, making for one of the most interesting chamber releases to appear in some time. The performances by the Fitzwilliam String Quartet are impeccable… razor sharp precision, confidence and emotional commitment. The sound is exceptionally clear.

” —Robert E McQuiston

Ramsay’s quartets are fundamentally tonal, with a good deal of chromaticism along the way .. typified by well-structured movements … they are deeply considered, individual, serious, sculptured works. Their self-evident intellectual grounding makes their instant approachability all the more gladdening. [The Fitzwilliams] perform John Ramsay with the same intensity and attentiveness they have previously accorded Shostakovich.

” —Byzantion

A notable new CD release. At a time when decoding is mandatory to separate spin from substance, it is refreshing to discover a CD release that does exactly what it says on the can. Totally committed performances are captured in excellent sound. John Ramsay comes to us as a fully formed composer with something important to say and the technique to say it.

” —Bob Shingleton

This is a worthwhile and substantial body of work which convinces through the quality of its performances. John Ramsay is indeed fortunate to have the support of such a fine string quartet and with an excellent recording this is a release which deserves respect and attention.

” —Dominy Clements

John Ramsay is an interesting character. His music is essentially tonally based, appealing to the ear, but not without a more acerbic side and also capable of some depth. A spirited performance by the Fitzwilliam Quartet.

” —Colin Clarke