Named after Villiers Street in London's colourful musical epicentre, the Villiers Quartet encompasses the grand and iconic spirit of the extraordinary music tradition in London. Hailed as one of the most charismatic and "adventurous" quartets of the European chamber music scene (The Strad), the Villiers Quartet has developed an international reputation for its performances of British music.
Alwyn’s musical style is in the main of a romantic nature firmly grounded in tonality, notwithstanding some forays into modernity, calling on dissonance and freedom of from when he felt the need. This approach can be keenly felt in the works included on this disc, all of which were completed when he was aged between eighteen and twenty-five. The medium of the string quartet held a long and lasting fascination for Alwyn, which began during the earliest years of his composing career. He was to compose a total of sixteen string quartets between the years 1920 and 1984. Alwyn considered that the string quartet was the ‘most intimate of mediums’ and revelled in the challenge to provide interesting material in which to balance the four instruments. The sixteen string quartets that he
was to compose can be divided into two groups; the first thirteen quartets were composed between 1920 and 1936, and the last three quartets were composed between 1953 and 1984.