The Ligeti Quartet has gained a reputation for their innovative and eclectic programming, which spans a wide range of genres and styles, from contemporary classical to experimental and electronic music, thus making a pairing with Anna Meredith an obvious choice. Together, the quartet perform new works by Anna, as well as re-imagining some previous works of hers for string quartet, such as “Honeyed Words”, “Shill”, “Blackfriars” and “Nautilus” all from her 2016 debut album Varmits.
The album starts off with “Tuggemo” whose free-form sliding passages literally make you feel like you are being ‘tugged’ back and forth, but just before you start to feel too sea-sick, you are swept up by a pumping synth line, performed by Anna herself, and are suddenly flung into a semi-electronic dance track before it’s back to the glissando madness. From the get-go, “Tuggemo” is a great encapsulation of what to expect, or not expect, over the next ten tracks.
“Honeyed Words”, originally a dizzying layered synth track, translates nicely into the realm of the Ligeti Quartet, almost like listening to a Haydn string quartet at 0.25 speed, it’s an uneasy feeling but always resolves beautifully. Immediately after a small moment of respite, you are slammed head first into the frantic “Solstice In” accompanied by Lucy Humphris on trumpet, which is complemented delightfully by the calming, almost jazzy “Solstice Out”.
Although there are moments throughout Nuc that may be hard to digest for the average listener, they are always followed by a track that allows breathing space, such as the beautiful “Blackfriars”, which offers a tasteful moment of reflection, before ending the album with “Nautilus”, which is guaranteed to get your head banging and your foot stomping in a way that may not entirely make sense at the time.
Absolute credit must go to the violist Richard Jones who took upon the difficult task of reinterpreting Anna’s previous work. Tracks like “Shill”, “Blackfriars” and “Nautilus” when compared to their originals seem sound worlds apart, yet the versions by the Ligeti Quartet sound like they were written only for them, thus making the tracks truly their own.
Ligeti Quartet perform Blackfriars live at The state51 FactoryThe state51 Conspiracy
The Ligeti Quartet use the full range of their skills on their instruments to help facilitate Anna Meredith’s fantastical musical cosmos on Nuc, from woozying glissandi, snappy Bartok pizzicato, lightspeed scale passages, soaring harmonics, to just simple and beautiful, melodic passages. Nuc is a magical preview into the world of contemporary music delivered to us by two of the best in the game. An absolute Qobuzissime!