String theories

Last night the first of three concerts at Lutheran Redeemer Church in the West End Micro Music Festival took place.  It was an exploration of the boundaries and possibilities of the string quartet and proved most interesting in that regard.  The use of extended technique has long been part of the string quartet repertoire but in the first part of last night’s programme two works by Nicole Lizée explored much further than that using additional “instruments”; whirly/whizzy things, strange blue/purple contraptions that made their own sounds and were also used as bows and sheets of paper rustled in front of fans.  Norma Beecroft’s Amplified Quartet with Tape augmented the four instruments with recorded electronicsWhether this was all pre-recorded or processed as the performance proceeded (or both) I couldn’t say. One has to admire the versatility of the interro quartet (Steve Sang Koh and Eric Kim-Fujita – vilolins, Maxime Despax -viola and Sebastian Ostertag – cello) in handling all the requirements.  It also really made me glad to be back listening “live”.  This kind of music demands a kind of distraction free attention that’s really hard to conjure up in one’s own living room.

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