The Sunday Times

This second impressive Finnissy disc from Metier includes most of his music for string quartet, though since he is much given to what Grainger called “elastic scoring” – an approach allowing a piece to be performed by different groupings – it is hard to make a definitive list. The first item, Plain Harmony (1993), is a chordal, indeed hymn-like, free-floating composition originally written for amateur orchestra of any shape or size, then revised (1993-1995) for a string quartet that uses part books, not a score. The result is luminous, diatonic, even soothing music, but the comparably “open” Nobody’s Jig (1981) is a daunting 19-minute essay in asynchronized abstraction, the textures elusive but fascinating. The String Quartet of 1984 is built on the opposite principle of minutely detailed notation and just as formidable: there are shattering dynamic contrasts. Also included are Multiple Forms of Constraint (1997), significantly cast for violin and string trio, and the brief Sehnsucht (1997), a wispy evocation of late romantic harmony.

—Paul Driver