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The Ying Quartet Play Life Music

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Audio CD, October 11, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

This was the first CD of The Ying Quartet’s acclaimed Life Music series. LifeMusic is a series of commissions from established or emerging American composers, and each work draws on a different aspect of American life. Made up of three brothers and a sister, The Ying Quartet has toured the world since its formation at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in 1988. The Quartet won the Naumberg Chamber Music Award in 1993. Natives of Chicago, the Ying siblings began their career as an ensemble in 1992 in the farm town of Jesup, Iowa (population 2000) as the first recipients of a National Endowment for the Arts grant to support chamber music in rural America.
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Product Details

  • Performer: Ying Quartet
  • Composer: Paquito D'Rivera, Carter Pann, Kevin Puts, Michael Torke
  • Audio CD (October 11, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: QUARTZ
  • ASIN: B0002LQQDM
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,733 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Though all works on this disc were written in 1999 or 2000, the listener need not fear any academic experimentation or sounds that are less than pleasant to the ear. All four pieces are solidly tonal, and clearly written from a desire to communicate. And so they do. Surprisingly, the quartet by the one "big name" represented here, Michael Torke, is by some margin the least interesting offering. It will be instantly recognizable to those familiar with his music: the signature syncopated rhythms and unapologetically optimistic mood are very much in evidence. I wondered, however, whether his style, with its brief, repetitive motifs, is all that suited to the string quartet medium. Only the middle movement brings some cantabile writing and a certain emotional charge, though to my ears it is not able to lift the piece as a whole much above the level of adeptly written, pleasant-sounding and inoffensive elevator music.

Carter Pann's "Love Letters" unabashedly takes its cue from Janaçek, though in fact it sounds more traditional than either of that composer's great quartets. It is cast in old-fashioned four-movement mould, and makes for interesting listening. The "Serenade" is particularly affecting, and the finale, "Passions", after a virtuoso opening settles obsessively on a haunting three-note theme that undergoes surprising and impressive permutations before the motorial agitation of the opening returns.

Paquito D'Rivera's work makes for interesting listening because of his unusual fusion of Latin American dance rhythms with more traditional string quartet idiom. The opening is highly atmospheric, and is dominated by a 5-note motto, that eventually recurs in tango-guise, after which other dance rhythms take over.
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Format: MP3 Music
The Michael Torke tracks are ravishing. The rest of the album is absolutely beautiful as well.
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I heard them live a couple of times, and they are truly fantastic together. I wanted to hear the piece dedicated to the Columbine High School shooting, Dark Vigil, again since I was really moved when I heard it on stage debut. The CD is excellent as a whole, giving it a contemporary musical collage of modern life.
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