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Transfiguration: Christopher Rouse

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Audio CD, September 29, 2009
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Product Details

  • Performer: Benjamin Jacobson, Eric Byers, Andrew Bulbrook, Jonathan Moerschel
  • Composer: Christopher Rouse
  • Audio CD (September 29, 2009)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: E1 Entertainment
  • ASIN: B002IJA6D2
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,493 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
They're the cool kids of the chamber music scene. In fact, the last time I saw the Calder Quartet in concert they were performing with the indie band The Airborne Toxic Event at Walt Disney Concert Hall.

And it's not a gimmick. By all accounts, the members of the Los Angeles-based chamber ensemble love to rock. But they also play serious concert music with the best of them.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the Calder Quartet's most recent release, Transfiguration, featuring the complete string chamber music of that great former rock drummer, Christopher Rouse, whose motto is, "fast is good, loud is better."

The two String Quartets by Rouse are painfully difficult to play and the Calders spent five years studying and performing them before making this world premiere recording.

Rouse himself describes these works as "ornery," calling the String Quartet No. 1 "seventeen minutes of rage." But sometimes Rouse's "rage" is more ironic; his scowl more of a smirk. Throughout, the Calders manage to dial up just the right amount of seething without making you feel like they're ticked off at you.

The String Quartet No. 2 isn't quite so angry. In three movements (slow-fast-slow), it's the final movement that gives this album its name. About midway through, the music builds to a dramatic, highly dissonant climax, which in an instant, melds into a stunningly beautiful major-key coda. "Transfigurato," Rouse says, in the score. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most sublime moments in all of classical music. Goosebumps for all.

Scored for the same instrumentation as Ravel's Introduction and Allegro, "Compline" is a delightful souvenir of a trip Rouse took to Rome in 1989.
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