CHRISTOPHER THEOFANIDIS (b.1967): Ariel Descending, MISSY MAZZOLI (b.1980): Quartet for Queen Mab, AARON COPLAND (1900-1990): 2 Pieces for String Quartet, SAMUEL BARBER (1910-1981): String Quartet, Op. 11.
Catalogue Number: 07X060
Description: This is volume 2 of the quartet's Many-Sided Music project, showcasing the diversity of American string quartets. Alongside Barber's Romantic Op.11 - the one with you-know-what as its slow movement - and Copland's early Pieces, we have two thoroughly accessible and characterful, very tonal, new pieces with extramusical impulses. Theofanidis' piece was the result of reading Sylvia Plath's Ariel, with its characteristically enigmatic, spare, yet vivid imagery full of movement and demanding to be read aloud. Of the various overlapping meanings of the poem, Shakespeare's Ariel of the spirit world, effortlessly aerial, and a horse of that name that Plath delighted in riding through an increasingly illuminated morning landscape, are evoked in the work’s three movements. The last has a propulsive energy and driving motion, exhilarating and a little out of control. The first movement seems to inhabit an unsettling, less earthly realm, in twisting, intertwining gestures, ephemeral as smoke or will-o'-the-wisp, while the brief middle movement is delicate, with an insubstantial thread of melody running through it. Queen Mab is a mischievous sprite with a presence in literature and folklore dating back to antiquity. Mazzoli's short single-movement quartet is a lively, capricious scherzo, building up to a post-minimalist wild ride with an insistent, obsessive refrain and a slightly sinister dreamlike atmosphere. Aeolus Quartet.