BENEDICT MASON (b.1954): String Quartet No. 2, REBECCA SAUNDERS (b.1967): Fletch, LUKE BEDFORD (b.1978): Wonderful Four-Headed Nightingale, JOHN ZORN (b.1953): Pandora's Box for Soprano and String Quartet.
Catalogue Number: 02Q070
Label: col legno
Reference: WWE 1CD 20421
Description: Saunders' piece refers to the feathered flights of arrows, and it seems plausible to hear in the skittering, pitchless fluttering of bow on string the eddies and air currents of an arrow in flight. Throughout, the instruments are detuned by quarter-tones or more, leading to strange, unstable, fluid effects. Mason's quartet explores a plethora of extended techniques in six 'scenes'. Despite the strange sounds the composer retains, as it were, imprecise memories of recognizable forms and processes, producing a sense of something familiar represented through a kind of acoustic cubism, surrealism or what have you. A good example is the movement played entirely by strumming with plectra; the depiction of something earthy, folksy, serenade-and-dance with guitars is unmistakable; the descriptive means, utterly unfamiliar. Bedford's piece is derived from his double concerto (11O100) dealing with a 19th century novelty act by a pair of conjoined twins; straightforward, consonant material is challenged by quarter-tone harmonies as the protagonists try to assert their independence while remaining wholly constrained by their material. Zorn's dramatic monologue employs a wide range of vocal techniques and playing techniques, though by no means all of the most extreme type; extended incantatory passages have an almost late-romantic feel, though malignant spirits are conjured through frantically hyperactive string textures and inarticulate screams as the piece reaches its terrifying conclusion.. No texts. Sarah Maria Sun (soprano), Arditti Quartet.