Navarra String Quartet, Alison Teale (cor anglais), Benjamin Marquise Gilmore (violin), Rob Buckland (alto saxophone)
[String Quartet No. 1] I found that, despite many stark passages, the quartet is ultimately a progression from darkness to light, or from pessimism to optimism. It deserves a place among the most important British quartets of all time. Le Jardin à Giverny … is hauntingly beautiful, with long-breathed, sinewy melodic lines and nods to John Ireland’s harmonies. It would not surprise me if this were taken up by Classic FM. [Triptych] The finale Moto perpetuo is a fusion of Italian and Hibernian mores. Based on the tarantella, it somehow morphs “into an Irish jig, where previous chromatic elements are transformed into diatonic ones”. The foot-tapping sounds are not faults on the disk – Gregson encourages this. The Benedictus … is a moving exposition of a simple melody supported by reflective string writing. The String Quartet No. 2 is remarkably satisfying … I cannot fault anything here. The performances are extraordinary all around. The recording is superb. All five premiere recordings reveal great depth, vision and technical assurance.
John France, MusicWeb International (May 2022)
These are convincing renditions by the Navarra Quartet, whose violinist Benjamin Marquise Gilmore is no less equal to Triptych (2011) … As to the arrangements of earlier pieces, the songful Le jardin à Giverny (2016) harks back to Gregson’s formative years while Benedictus (2021) easily transcends its vocal origin. Alison Teale and Rob Buckland do them proud, and anyone curious as to Gregson’s exploratory side should certainly investigate this excellently recorded and annotated release.
Richard Whitehouse, Gramophone (July 2022)
String Quartet No. 1 was written for the Navarra String Quartet and they have the full measure of this adroit and versatile score …
Alison Teale joins the Navarra’s for Le Jardin à Giverny … The players’ fresh, spontaneous-sounding approach brings an aptly open-air quality to this eloquent miniature.
[Triptych] Benjamin Marquise Gilmore, of the Navarra String Quartet, rises superbly to the writing’s virtuosic challenges, yet his considered and astute account ensures the overall impression left by this varied, inclusive piece is one of wide-ranging musicality rather than surface technique.
[Benedictus] The lyrical impulse is always strong in Gregson’s music and we encounter it here in its purest most fluent form. Rob Buckland and the Navarra’s bring warmth to the composer’s flowing lines.
[String Quartet No. 2] The Navarra Quartet observe with flair the score’s various expressive effects, yet never allow these technical aspects to draw the listener’s attention away from the cogent and persuasive overall musical argument.
Superbly recorded in the presence of the composer, this thoughtfully programmed disc has the ring of authenticity. It would be difficult to imagine more committed or imaginative performances of the featured works, the three most substantial of which are patently major contributions to the repertoire. Highly recommended.
Paul Conway, Musical Opinion (July 2022)