MASON BATES (b.1977): Bagatelles for String Quartet and Electronica, KEN UENO (b.1970): Peradam for String Quartet, MOHAMMED FAIROUZ (b.1985): The Named Angels For String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 11R085
Label: Sono Luminus
Description: Bates' Bagatelles are a lot of fun, and the parts of the music played by the quartet are melodic, tonal and appealing. If the answer to the question 'but is it classical?' concerns you, then you should know that the jittery electronic rhythm section that accompanies the first, second and fourth pieces, assembled from processed samples of percussive sounds made by the instruments, has more to do with the kind of thing normally associated with EDM, Techno and Trip-hop than anything normally encountered in the vicinity of a string quartet. Bates' musical material tends toward the folky and jazzy, so the combination unquestionably works and results in four lively little pieces, 'alternative' in a non-threatening, audience-friendly way. Ueno's piece, titled and inspired by the idea of a rare, beautiful natural phenomenon, is more in keeping with the norms of avant-garde concert music; twenty minutes of innovative sounds and instrumental textures, microtones, unusual harmonics and vocalizations from the performers, including some memorable passages of throat singing. Fairouz' work refers to the four angels named in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions. The composer's idiom is very tonal with middle-Eastern modal inflections and more than a suggestion of American minimalism especially in the more energetic music. The movements are in turn propulsive; plaintively melodic and songlike, very Romantic; prayerful and ecstatic; and a sequence of tumultuous dances, preceded and followed by a skirling evocation of the trumpet of the apocalypse. Del Sol String Quartet..