Not too many modern string quartets compose, record and perform their own material, premiere original pieces by contemporary composers and breathe fresh life into the great music of the past. New York-based Brooklyn Rider is one such quartet — their latest recording ‘Seven Steps’ offers all of the above — and is quickly escalating in worldwide reputation to rival the likes of Kronos Quartet and Quatuor Ebène.
“Admiring the boundless creativity exhibited by our favorite bands of today, we began to wonder why a string quartet shouldn’t also endeavor to create music collaboratively rather than relying on the singular voice of the composer,” offers viola player Nicholas Cords as the source of the absolutely gripping original piece Seven Steps, which opens their new record.
Running the gamut of what contemporary classical music has to offer, the piece is an exhaustive musical ride, made of drastically different sections and moods. Pizzicato and percussive effects give way to austere melodies atop a syncopated rhythm. Out of forte cello jabs and eerie violin scratches, a very rhythmic section slowly emerges. After more spooky doodling and exploration of the quartet’s potential, a violin outburst ensues, supported by a pounding cello. The piece ends serenely, in a peaceful mood.
The live performance of Seven Steps alone is worth your attendance. But there is plenty more on this Sunday’s varied program; another highlight will be Béla Bartók’s amazing String Quartet No. 2. The Hungarian’s six works in this genre are regarded as quintessential expressions of the form. Premiered in 1918, String Quartet No. 2 demands extreme virtuosity from all four performers, has one of the most riveting second movements ever and traverses an amazing range of musicality that I will not even attempt to describe.
With a program boasting these two amazing pieces, written almost a century apart, and also featuring music by 20th century giant Igor Stravinsky, contemporary Jewish-Hungarian composer György Kurtág and others, this is certainly a performance to witness.
If you enjoy and appreciate anything about ‘art’ music, this is for you. It will be worth your money. And your time.
Brooklyn Rider returns to the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park on Sunday, November 4. The concert will be held at Tiedtke Concert Hall, at 3 p.m.
Johnny Gandelsman: violin
Colin Jacobsen: violin
Nicholas Cords: viola
Eric Jacobsen: cello
- Stravinsky – Three Pieces for String Quartet
- Bartok – String Quartet No. 2
- Brooklyn Rider – Seven Steps
- L. Zhurbin (“Ljova”) – Culai
- Kurtag – Microludes
- C. Jacobsen – Persian Miniatures
Tickets range from $35 to $50, click here to get them.
To read more about Brooklyn Rider, click here.
To watch a video of Brooklyn Rider playing a section from Philip Glass’ score for ‘Mishima,’ click here.
To watch a performance of the second movement of Bartók’s String Quartet No. 2 by the Accord Quartet, click here.
To learn about upcoming Bach Festival Society events, click here.
To read a review of the most recent Bach Festival Society concert, click here.