Like Michael Nyman’s, the music of Bryars is one I should detest. It’s not the repetitive minimalism I mind, mind you, it’s the saccharine harmonies and all-too obvious sentimental string-pulling that seems to go with their music (as well as the music of Philip Glass), barely suitable even for film music (it says a lot about the lack of musical culture of film directors, and/or of confidence in their own films, that they should accept that kind of music – It’s like pouring thick servings of gravy to mask the fact that the viands are rotten).
And yet, I’ve titled my reviews of his String Quartets, that they are the “Best response to those who claim that nothing beautiful was written since Britten and Shostakovich.”
Never despair of mankind, even the minimal part of it.
“Three Viennese Dancers”: Prologue (1986). String Quartet No. 1 “Between the National and the Bristol” (1985). First Viennese Dance (“M.H.”) (1985-6). Epilogue (1986). Pascal Pongy (French horn), Charles Fullbrook & Gavin Bryars (percussion), Arditti String Quartet. European edition ECM New Series ECM 1323 (829 484-2), US edition BMG ECM 1323 (78118-21323-2) (1986) and Japanese editions
“The Last Days”. String Quartet No. 1 “Between the National and the Bristol” (1985), Die Letzten Tage (“The Last Days”) for Two Violins (1992), String Quartet No. 2 (1990). Balanescu Quartet. Argo 448 175-2 (1995)
Gavin Bryars: Three String Quartets: String Quartet No. 1 “Between the National and the Bristol, 1985), String Quartet No. 2 (1990), String Quartet No. 3 (1998). The Lyric Quartet. Black Box BBM1079 (2002)
Cadman Requiem (1989 revised 1997; Hilliard Ensemble, Fretwork), Adnan Songbook (1996; Valdine Anderson soprano, Gavin Bryars Ensemble), Epilogue from Wonderlawn (1994; Gavin Bryars Ensemble). (European edition) Point Music 462 511-2, (US edition) Point Music 289 462 511-2 (1998)