String Quartet #1 in B Flat Major "Maori"
String Quartet #2 in G minor "A Maori Legend in Four Scenes"
String Quartet #3 in A minor "The Carnival"
Naxos 8.570491 65:41
In spite of the little note on the back of the disc jewel box, I do not immediately think of either Tchaikovsky or Dvořák when I listen to these charming quartets. I'm put more in the mood of Grieg's Lyric Pieces for piano (but not his string quartet!) or the Americans, Chadwick and Foote. I admit that I don't know enough about Maori folk music to identify themes or characteristics, but I do know that these quartets are lovely and memorable and belong to the tradition of German Romantic compositions.
Of particular note is the very quiet and sweet second movement from the Second String Quartet, "The Dream". It has an otherworldly quality of great beauty and delicacy.
Although Hill was an Australian who also lived in New Zealand for some years, his early musical training was in Leipzig and his violin and viola performance was with the Gewandhaus Orchestra. Hill was a most prolific composer. He is said to have composed over 2000 works, among them, seventeen string quartets. The performers in the Dominion Quartet, a fine group of excellent musicians dedicated to performing the music of New Zealand composers, are Yury Gezentsvay, and David Pucher, violins; Donald Maurice, viola; and David Chikering, cello.
Another volume of Alfred Hill string quartets performed by the Dominion Quartet (#4, 6, and 8) is available on Naxos 8.572097.