Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Episode 1 addendum: Sirius String Quartet mini-review

I apologize to Jenny Choi, Gregor Huebner, Ron Lawrence and Dave Eggar for the disservice I'm about to do to their Stone hit last week, but time and brain cells are running short right now.

They played a programme focusing mainly on "Downtown Composers," including their own Huebner, Fred Frith, Elliott Sharp, and Billy Martin. (I feel like I'm missing one composer...) This interview with Sharp seems rather aptly timed. The usual string-effect suspects were present: scratchy, unpitched sul ponticello bowings, and harmonics used for varying effects. Though these colours were prevalent, the pieces didn't sound the same. It does beg the question as to whether such widespread use renders the phrase "extended technique" obsolete.

My favourite pieces were those by Hueber - mostly because they were the closest in line to what I've been trying to achieve with my own trio + strings project. I definitely got some new ideas for revisions to that material from listening to his music. The chorale textures and harmonies he sets up are wonderful. The miniature Bulgarian violin duet (with Lawrence and Eggar frantically clapping the odd meter towards the end) was great fun, as well.

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