In New York, Two Quartets with Premieres and Sounds from Far North


Arctic Sounds : Mivos Quartet, Redshift, Kathy Turco (recorded sounds), Galapagos Art Space, Brooklyn, NY, 29.6.2011 (BH)

Tristan Perich : Salt for string quartet and 1-bit electronics (World premiere)
Samson Young
: 17 for string quartet and electronics (World premiere)
David Lang
: Stick Figure (new arr.)
Richard Carrick
: Sonic Tapestry Communications
Garrett Byrnes
: Phasing Tides
Matthew Welch
: The Favrile Opalescence
Jad Abumrad
: Untitled
Kirsten Volness
: Bering Sea
James Holt
: Gallery
Max Stoffregen
: The Domain of Arnheim
Mary Kouyoumdjian
: Sedna, Beneath the Sea (Requiem, Above Waters)
Ryan Brown
: We’ll Go North When Springtime Comes

Mivos Quartet
Olivia De Prato, violin
Joshua Modney, violin
Victor Lowrie, viola
Isabel Castellvi, cello

Andie Spring, violin
Jeffrey Anderle, clarinets
Rose Bellini, cello
Kate Campbell, piano

This intriguing evening at Galapagos, titled Arctic Sounds, attracted a healthy crowd eager to hear two quartets, one bearing two premieres, and the other tackling an ambitious project using recordings of natural phenomena by Kathy Turco. Redshift, based in New York and San Francisco, commissioned ten composers to write short works incorporating one of Turco’s electronic tracks, recorded in the Arctic. David Lang’s Stick Figure keeps the ensemble in a Feldman-esque stasis over sounds of sea birds, while Richard Carrick imagines the violin, bass clarinet, cello and piano in subtle conversation with a tape of bears.

Water sounds were used in Garrett Byrnes’s Phasing Tides and Kirsten Volness’s Bering Sea. Byrne’s mellifluous timbres melded with a large, constantly moving ocean, while Volness used lanquid gestures combined with what seemed like waves lapping at the shoreline. Bird calls wafted through Matthew Welch’s The Favrile Opalescence (with a Welch bagpipe tune sneaking in), James Holt’s gentle Gallery, and Ryan Brown’s delicate We’ll Go North When Springtime Comes, with the clarinetist using a tray of small bells and wind chimes. And more animals inspired the lively, accented motifs of The Domain of Arnheim by Max Stoffregen, as well as Sedna, Beneath the Sea (Requiem, Above Waters) by Mary Kouyoumdjian. In the latter, the sounds of howling wolves illuminate a strange Inuit legend about a woman who marries her companion dog instead of her betrothed, who then drowns her.

But if the inspiration seemed worthy, the hour-long set was slightly sabotaged by the sound (which could have been the effect of where I was sitting), giving the electronic portion a clear advantage over the efforts of the musicians onstage. The net result was a sense of sameness, despite the relative variety in Turco’s recordings and the composers’ responses to them. Future performances may remedy the imbalance.

The evening began with the Mivos Quartet in Salt, by Tristan Perich, who is fascinated by the primitive timbres of 1-bit electronics (as he notes, “also the palette of aggressive electric alarm clocks”). With the soundtrack abuzz, the violins and viola offered mostly high pitches as the cello murmured in a more distinct melodic line. It’s a piece worth hearing again, in a situation that better shows the conversation between the instruments and Perich’s endearingly retro sounds. Samson Young’s 17, using a hyperactive ostinato that might have been dreamed up by Philip Glass on a particularly caffeinated day, was marred by (again) over-prominent electronics, which fairly well concealed the spirited work from the hardworking live musicians.

Bruce Hodges

Print Friendly


Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews


Season Previews

  • NEW! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra at St John’s Smith Square’s 2017 Christmas Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H