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The Solem Quartet Seize the Day

Door Lena Germann |

British chamber group, The Solem Quartet, make a shining debut with their Qobuzissime-winning album 'The Four Quarters.' Although the album is centred around Thomas Adès' quartet of the same name, we are surprised at every turn with a snippet of Purcell, a slice of Bartók, and even a sprinkle of Kate Bush.

The Solem Quartet is no stranger to the classical and contemporary music world. As winners of the Jerwood Arts Live Work Fund 2020, they are one of the UK's most significant artistic voices. In addition, the ensemble stands out for its musical diversity and openness due to its involvement in innovative projects as well as collaborations with artists from different genres. Now the four musicians from England release their long-awaited debut album, The Four Quarters on Orchid Classics: a musical, transcendent journey influenced by composers from the Baroque period to the present.

Despite such a diverse selection of compositions, one piece stands out as spanning the entire album: Thomas Adès' masterpiece The Four Quarters. The four movements meander through the enormous range of recordings and appear between arrangements by Henry Purcell, Florence Price, Béla Bartók and Robert Schumann. Adès' composition is based on the cycle of the day as a central metaphor - a ramble from the early hours of the morning to the depths of the night. The juxtaposition of time and space, earth and sky is also reflected in the music. In the first movement, Nightfalls, the violins sound fine overtones in regular patterns, the viola and cello play the deep harmony far below and thus remain grounded.

Another highlight of the album is certainly the interpretation of Aaron Parker's easqelä. It is the fourth movement of the five-part work Tuoretu, which was composed specifically for The Solem Quartet. The name was invented freely and refers to the eternal expanses of eastern England as well as the fading colours of the sunset, which, just like the sounds, merge boundlessly into one another. The melancholic, haunting viola solo, underpinned by the dim fifth and fourth parallels of the other strings, reinforces the ever-present transcendence and once again draws out the fundamental elements of the album: closeness to nature, dreamscapes and timelessness. And even though it is the penultimate track on the record, the end of the musical dream journey is far from sight...

With The Four Quarters, The Solem Quartet releases a unique and highly inspiring album that sets its own timeless anchor between contemporary art and traditional sounds.


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