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JACK Quartet plays áltaVoz composers

by JACK Quartet

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New music powerhouse JACK Quartet performs works by four Latin American emigré composers whose works transcend boundaries of nation and tradition.

Felipe Lara's work "Tran(slate)" engages with what he describes as "the artist's impossible desire/obsession of starting from a blank slate, tabula rasa." Formed in Boston in 2003, áltaVoz is a group of Latin American emigré composers currently living in North America and Europe. The pieces performed by the stellar Jack Quartet on this recording suggest that these four Latin American composers have embraced, if not a "tabula rasa", then a quasi-universal modernist vocabulary that is more allied with a global academic tradition than anything specifically germane to aesthetics specifically associated with their native countries. Composers Felipe Lara (Brasil), Jose Luis Hurtado (Mexico), Mauricio Pauly (Costa Rica), and Jorge Villavicencio Grossman (Peru/Brasil) have all established themselves as dynamic voices in Europe and North and South America and important figures in academia. This recording was made in conjunction with a concert presented by the Americas Society in New York in 2010 featuring the critically acclaimed new music specialists Jack Quartet in performances of these works.

Lara's piece "translates" characteristic gestures from the controlled world of electronic music onto instrumental gestures in the string quartet, expanding on a concept integral to the chamber music of one of his professors and mentors, Argentine-American composer Mario Davidovsky. University of New Mexico professor José Luis-Hurtado's "L'ardito e quasi stridente gesto" explores oppositional elements of a single expressive character, one of unease and tension. In Royal Northern College faculty member Mauricio Pauly's "Every New Volition a Mercurial Swerve" composite instrumental analogues are created within the ensemble, with one instrument triggering another with quick glissandi, accelerating and decelerating figures, and brusque pizzicato chords. Midway through the piece, ethereal harmonics create a weightless repose between episodic interruptions. Ithaca College professor Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann's String Quartet no. 3 not only has the most conventional title of the set, but also uses an approach to string quartet writing that is closely aligned with traditional repertoire for the combination. Opening with a haunting passage featuring an austere unison duo over an eerie accompanimental ostinato, Grossmann's work engages in instrumental character pairings not unlike what one hears in Elliott Carter's Second String Quartet. The second movement is written primarily in pizzicato, with the instruments hocketing in a rhythmic texture. The final movement is a deeply felt piece based on a flexibly realized passacaglia. Towards the end of the work, a brief quote from Bach's chorale "Es ist genug" ("it is enough") is heard, tying this expressive quartet to the roots of a tradition it reverentially honors in its construction.

Closing this excellently curated and performed recording with Grossmann's expressionist quartet suggests that the elusive "tabula rasa" may relate more to the lineage of the string quartet itself than any impact of emigration on the aesthetic of these four composers. The string quartet is a notoriously daunting genre to tackle, and the áltaVoz composers have contributed four substantial works to the repertoire that both push it forward while growing from roots in the rich and long tradition they are building upon.


released August 15, 2014

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Ryan Streber at Oktaven Studio in Yonkers, NY.
Produced by José Luis Hurtado, Felipe Lara, Mauricio Pauly and Jorge Villavicencio Grossmann.
Artwork by Mauricio Quirós.




New Focus Recordings New York, New York

New Focus Recordings is an artist led collective label featuring releases in contemporary music of many stripes, as well as new approaches to older repertoire. The label was founded by guitarist Daniel Lippel (who is the current director), composer engineer Ryan Streber, and composer Peter Gilbert in 2003-4, and features releases from many of new music's most active performers and composers. ... more

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