Description: On their ECM New series debut, the Boston-based Parker Quartet, hailed by the Washington Post for “exceptional virtuosity and imaginative interpretation,” play music of György Kurtág and are joined by violist Kim Kashkashian, one of the quarter’s early mentors, to play Dvořák. In this powerful programme of contrasts, Dvořák’s outgoing String Quintet No. 3, composed in America in 1893, is framed by two of Kurtág’s concentrated, meticulously-shaped works – the Six Moments musicaux (2005) and the Officium breve in memoriam Andreae Szervánszky (1988/89). Throughout, the Parker Quartet’s feeling for colour and texture is in evidence. The quartet’s insights into Kurtág’s soundworld have been developed through extensive work with the Hungarian composer. The album was recorded at Zürich’s Radio DRS Studio.
Considered one of the finest American string quartets, the Parker Quartet became quartet in residence at prestigious Harvard University in 2014. Association with this great center of excellence has further developed their interpretation of the Beethoven Quartets. Their subtle readings of them bring new life to every detail of the scores. The three masterpieces chosen for this CD come from a specific period in the composer’s life, 1799-1809 – ten years during which Beethoven blew asunder established classical reference points, forging a new, ambitious and romantic style. For Beethoven, the string quartet was the perfect medium for exploring this new way of writing. More intimate and lighter than the orchestra, the medium is, as Stravinsky would later write, “the most lucid conveyor of musical ideas ever fashioned.”
The Parker Quartet is widely known and respected for their inspiring performances, dazzling sound, and remarkable musicianship. The Grammy-Award-winning ensemble was founded in, and is currently based in Boston. The group has a vastly varied repertoire, ranging from classical to contemporary compositions. They have rapidly set themselves apart as one of the most trailblazing ensembles of its generation. The group is sought after worldwide, and appears at prestigious venues across North and South America, Europe, and South Korea. For the Quartet, the music of Felix Mendelssohn is rejuvenating. There is no other composer who can better channel the youthful soul that all of us have inside. This joyful music captures the spirit of life, which the Parker Quartet amplifies with their irresistible energy.
2011 GRAMMY Winner: Best Chamber Music Performance
Gyorgy Ligeti's choral and orchestral music hit the mainstream when it was featured in the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but his equally remarkable chamber works remain less well known. While indebted to his compatriot Bartók for its folk-inflected passages, Ligeti's First Quartet, subtitled Métamorphoses nocturnes, is nonetheless a work of striking originality. The Second Quartet, composed around fifteen years later, abounds in contrasts between glacial stillness and manic activity, mechanistic pizzicatos and gentle oscillations. His early Andante and Allegro is richly expressive and easily accessible.
"Their international experience is nonetheless already considerable and their performances mature--hardly a surprise, perhaps, from a group which would choose for its CD debut a program such as this ... their performance of the Bartók 2nd quartet is a commanding one, with the ebb and flow of tension in the first movement firmly and persuasively directed." -- International Record Review, October 2007
Augusta Read Thomas: Helix Spirals for string quartet (2014)
Parker String Quartet
Recorded here by the Grammy-winning Parker Quartet, Jeremy Gills Capriccio is a wide-ranging exploration of the potential of the string quartet. The historical frame of the capriccio allowed me to create a kaleidoscopic array of wildly varying movements that explore all of the technical, expressive, and textural possibilities of the string quartet medium.
Jeremy Gill composer, conductor
Parker String Quartet
Mimi Stillman, flute
Charles Abramovic, piano
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