Still Image

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Audio Samples: 
Trombone Quintet, Movement II (938.91 kb)
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Still Image (469.79 kb)
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SKU: CD-CMCCD 17412
Call Number: CD 1547
Media Type: CD
Year of Release: 2012
Record Label: Centrediscs / Centredisques

The four pieces for string quartet recorded here, including a quintet with trombone and clarinet respectively, span a period of 1997 – 2011. Separately commissioned, the compositions have their own identity. At the same time, a multitude of relationships resonate across the works, contributing to a cyclical quality to the project as a whole. The two string quartets, throughcomposed in a single movement, unfold in juxtapositions of contrasting sections. The two quintets, constructed in multiple movements, were commissioned by two remarkable musicians: Jeremy Berkman and François Houle. Their musical personalities and special skills are embedded in each quintet. Listeners may experience a variety of subtle or more powerful points of contact linking the works on the disc. Certainly for me the compositional process was cumulative, as if each successive work was speaking with and carrying further the experiences of what happened before.

I cannot say that I fell in love with composing for the string quartet from the beginning. Rather, the string quartet seemed to find me, entering into my creative life at periods of intensity in my own life-experience. The intimacy of composing for two violins, a viola and cello has been a challenge and a gift at these times, giving me the opportunity to focus and perhaps intensify the contrasts in my compositional thinking, as if shooting a film in black and white. I am thankful to the Quatuor Bozzini for joining me on this project and for commissioning a new work for the recording. Creating a quartet especially for them, taking into account their musical intelligence and potent interpretation, has made the collection of works complete.

Track list:

1 String Quartet #4 - The Night (14:19)

Still Image (17:54)
2 I. (6:54)
3 II. (5:57)
4 III. (5:03)
with François Houle (clarinet)

5 String Quartet #3 - The Alynne (16:20)

Trombone Quintet (20:53)
6 I. (3:56)
7 II. (4:21)
8 III. (2:45)
9 IV (9:51)
with Jeremy Berkman (trombone)

PERFORMERS
Quator Bozzini

REVIEWS

"Owen Underhill’s music is a sea of fluid contrasts: the busy clockwork time of action and dance and the suspended time of contemplation; bold gestures that cut across static, glassy textures; counterpoint one can see through, like a forest of bare trees, yet folded into consonances. The Bozzini Quartet provides haunting interpretations of Underhill’s third and fourth string quartets, which sneak up on the heart via the head. Superb soloists grace the two wind quintets: Jeremy Berkman, who turns phrases into characters with eloquent tone and smooth line in Underhill’s stunning Trombone Quintet, and clarinetist François Houle, whose cultivation of unorthodox techniques – liquid quartertones and multiphonics like fine sandpaper – heightens the sense of a music in which the detail is almost tactile, and none of it is expendable."-- Elissa Poole, The Globe and Mail

"Underhill has created a showcase for the trombone, with both plenty of novelty and a rock-solid foundation of expressive and very beautivul writing for the instrument with string support and commentary. The four-movement Trombone Quintet is a composition that would grace virtually any chamber music program, and a real treasure for those trombone players who wish to participate in the rarefied world of chamber music-making." -- David Gordon Duke, The Vancouver Sun

"Canadian composer Owen Underhill (b 1954) speaks a musical language that is often stark, spare, and bleak, with dissonance that sometimes reminds me of Arvo Pärt. His music would be quite forbidding were it not for a couple of warm passages in each of his works. This program is string quartets, including ones with added clarinet and trombone. While composing Quartet 3 (The Alynne, 1998) after a daughter was born with serious medical difficulties, Underhill found solace and inspiration in a passage from Yeats (included in the notes). Lively dance passages offer relief from despair in the single-movement, 16-minute work. In the 14-minute Quartet 4 (The Night, 2011), barren dissonance (darkness) gives way to warm consonance (light). Clarinetist Francois Houle commissioned Still Image (2007, 2011) and is heard in this arresting reading. In the three-movement, 18- minute work, I is mysterious and includes disquieting quarter-tones in the clarinet part. II takes advantage of clarinet multiphonics, especially in a remarkable cadenza where Houle creates an otherworldly atmosphere. III is the most active and thickly textured movement, and the ending is breathtaking. The Trombone Quintet (1999) has string chorales with quiet, lyrical trombone in I and III; trombone multiphonics and muting with lively strings in II; and a mostly quiet, contrapuntal IV. With his trombone tone compact and pure, his dynamic level held down, Jeremy Berkman manages to play in balance with the strings in this unusual work. Excellent readings by the Montreal-based Bozzini Quartet (violinists Clemens Merkel and Mira Benjamin, violist Stephanie Bozzini, and cellist Isabelle Bozzini), whose devotion to new music—particularly in their annual Composers Kitchen—is laudable" - Kilpatrick, The American Record Guide

"The CD opens with String Quartet #4 “The Night,” which was commissioned by the Bozzini Quartet for the recording. This is my favorite work on the album—a single movement work made up short passages of varied textures punctuated with string harmonics. This quartet evinces the balancing of the almost familiar with restive excursions that hold the ear, but the brevity of the sections brings various manifestations of those tendencies into a prismatic juxtaposition: now scurrying sul pont. gestures over simple pizzicato bass, then an aqueous passage of tremolos and ephemeral lines, then an ascetic chorale, each resolving in turn to the nearly-cadential but equally varied passages of string harmonics. At times evocative of Bartók’s folkloricism, at times fleetingly reminiscent of Black Angels, the work shows a disciplined ear behind the sectional form and kaleidoscopic surface. [...] As this is the first review of either Quatour Bozzini or Owen Underhill on this blog, this CD serves as an engaging and beautiful introduction to their work and I look forward to hearing more from both of them." - David Dies, I Care if You Listen





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