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Dominant Curve

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 6, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Born out of a desire to use the rich medium of the string quartet as a vehicle for communication across a large cross section of history and geography, Brooklyn Rider is equally devoted to the interpretation of existing quartet literature and to the creat


Watching Brooklyn Rider play music from its new CD, Dominant Curve, at the colorfully lighted Angel Orensanz Foundation on Monday evening just a few days after seeing the Kronos Quartet at Zankel Hall it was hard not to think about how string quartets have revamped their image in the last quarter century. Once the very symbol of classical music s staidness (however unfair that seemed to anyone who knows the vitality and adventurousness of the repertory), quartets are now unleashing their inner rock bands. Groups like Kronos and Ethel dress casually, play only new music and use amplification and up-to-date sound processing. But even more traditional ensembles have adopted high-energy performing styles. Brooklyn Rider has a trendy veneer, based partly on its interest in music that draws on other cultures and its openness to combining acoustic and electronic sound. But trendiness notwithstanding, this group is anchored firmly in the straightforward quartet world. Its program, largely replicating Dominant Curve (In a Circle Records), included new works by Colin Jacobsen, one of the ensemble s violinists; Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky; and Kojiro Umezaki. But John Cage was represented by an uncharacteristic oldie, the sweetly tonal In a Landscape (1948), augmented here with a subtle electronic overlay by Justin Messina. And the evening s centerpiece was a brisk, intensely focused account of Debussy s G minor Quartet (Op. 10), a 117-year-old work we still think of as vaguely modern. The players combined their concert with an art exhibition works by Lennie Peterson (whose drawings illustrate the Dominant Curve booklet), Golnar Adili, William Merkens, Kevork Mourad and Andrew Nofsinger and attracted a large, young crowd. Mr. Jacobsen s Achille s Heel (2009) the title refers to Debussy s middle name, Achille offers an unusual look at the dynamics of quartet playing. Stretches of this fantasy in four connected movements are scored for one, two or three instruments, and those combinations say as much about the nature of musical interplay as the full quartet passages. Mr. Jacobsen s style is eclectic: sweetly shaped melodies float over harmonically dense accompaniments, and toward the end, he edges toward the shimmering harmonies that animate the Debussy quartet. Mr. Yanov-Yanovsky borrows from the Debussy quartet as well. In ... al niente (2009), he weaves thematic fragments from the score into an eerie, otherworldly texture, but you barely notice them as the work morphs from a nearly static meditation into a rhythmically explosive central section and a lugubrious finale. Mr. Umezaki s graceful playing on the shakuhachi (a Japanese flute) defined the spirit of his (Cycles) what falls must rise (2009), but he gave the quartet plenty to do, not least an appealing pizzicato section, some stratospheric violin writing and a lovely, if brief, duet for viola and cello. And in the spirit of the evening, Debussy was touched on, at least obliquely, in the harmonic haziness in the work s final pages. Brooklyn Rider s playing in these new works was energetic, finely detailed, solidly unified. But it was not until its propulsive, rhythmically and texturally fluid performance of the Debussy that you could see how technically polished and interpretively insightful this quartet is. --NY Times

"This smart string quartet is, at heart, a rock band string quartet... The players present four strong, feisty voices but of like mind. They play off one another. Every phrase, every rhythmic impulse is meant to get your attention." --LA Times

"Outfits like Brooklyn Rider, and its excellent recent release Dominant Curve, are bringing a much needed fresh image to the Western classical world. The key to the success of any music genre is evolution." --Huffington Post

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Achille's Heel, for string quartet: Lydia's Reflection
  2. Achille's Heel, for string quartet: Second Bounce
  3. Achille's Heel, for string quartet: Loveland
  4. Achille's Heel, for string quartet: Shur Landing
  5. (Cycles) what falls must rise, for string quartet, shakuhachi & electronics
  6. String Quartet, L. 85 (Op. 10): Animé et très décidé
  7. String Quartet, L. 85 (Op. 10): Assez vif et bien rytmé
  8. String Quartet, L. 85 (Op. 10): Andantino, doucement expressif
  9. String Quartet, L. 85 (Op. 10): Très modéré - Très mouvementé et avec passion
  10. ...al niente, for string quartet
  11. In a Landscape, for piano or harp

Product Details

  • Composer: Colin Jacobsen, Kojiro Umezaki, Claude Debussy, Dmitri Yanov Yanovsky, John Cage
  • Audio CD (April 6, 2010)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: In a Circle Records
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • ASIN: B00354NBZE
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,901 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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The modernist impulse to "make it new" often results in the most insipid, boring, self-obsessed trivia you can (but hate to) imagine. But sometimes, as in this effort and program by Brooklyn Rider, it happens, beautifully. The centerpiece, Debussy's String Quartet, offers one of the most lively AND thoughtful renderings of this standard work. Would be worth the disc itself. But the four surrounding pieces (all new to my ears) reflect and bring entirely new dimensions to this old, familiar friend as well as offering their own delights. Think of a fine old plant in your garden unexpectedly sending out new tendrils. Listen to all the parts and then to the whole....because it is. New as can be only the very best of the old. In the right hands. Ride on Brooklyn Rider!
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There is a most exciting, punk-like energy in the interpretations presented by the four young musicians. They are keenly adept at complimenting each other's playing and each interpretation brings something new to the listener. Their energy and talent meld into a high level of frenzy that seems to create something new in these familiar yet unique works. A real treat for the ears - but it's even more exciting to experience Brooklyn RIder live!
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Stunning, intricate, transportive; fabulous!! Four enormously talented young men who explore the music, stretching it and weaving it, and, in the end, viscerally connects us to the music and the exprience.
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