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Attacca Quartet|Of All Joys

Of All Joys

Attacca Quartet

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“And tears and sighs and groans my weary days / Of all joys have deprived”.

This short verse by John Dowland, which inspired the Attacca Quartet the title of its new album released by Sony, sums up well the state of mind of the members of the quartet when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Faced with lockdowns and social distancing measures, music could no longer fulfill its promise of reunification and communion. So, when the easing of health restrictions timidly allowed the resumption of artistic activities, the return to the studios had the effect of a shock for the four young musicians: "We've never been so moved: we had to stop and cry between takes", confesses Andrew Yee (cello). "Of All Joys" is therefore an album of resilience, the one of the newfound light that blinds you and brings you back to the world after spending an eternity locked in the darkness of a cellar.

There is thus a very great spirituality in this album, which brings together Renaissance works and minimalist compositions from the 20th century. Arvo Pärt's Summa, heartbreaking in its sustained earthly clashes, and Allegri's Miserere magnificently transcribed, reveal the highly metaphysical character of the programme. But the quartet avoids any accusation of bigotry, showing that depth can emerge from secular works, as in the madrigals of Dowland or Gibbons. The latter's Fantasia à 6 in D minor is dazzling with colour, and the Attacca serve it perfectly with their sharp timbres, hitting their target right in the heart. The harmonic and rhythmic richness of this composition leads the listener into a multitude of healing emotions. Beauty and joy as a remedy for pain.

It is indeed a direct relationship with the emotions that guides the intelligent and precise approach of the Attacca Quartet, who preferred here the sensual, carnal relationship to the works rather than any historical or musicological loyalty. In fact, of all the works on this programme, only one was actually written for string quartet: the Quartet No. 3 "Mishima" by the composer Philip Glass. It is perhaps with this piece that the genius and essential talent of the New York quartet is fully realised. Music lovers around the world had never recovered from the version recorded by the legendary Kronos Quartet in 1985. Since then, it seemed impossible to improve on it, and yet Attacca has done just that. With a fresh approach to this six-movement quartet, they offer a much more nervous, sharper version. The overall sound is unpredictable, sometimes rounding off the timbre, sometimes piercing the silence with great blows of the bow; one could almost see the poet Mishima appear in the flesh, so well does this interpretation reflect his contradictory personality and the tragedy of his fate!

The album ends as it began, with the meditative and soothing company of Arvo Pärt (here, his Fratres). The musicians barely touch the strings, a thin stream of pure air flows from their instruments. This finale has the effect of an out of body experience and plunges us into a state of blissful wonderment. After hearing it, there is nothing left but silence, to try to penetrate the mystery of this splendid ecstasy with its diaphanous beauty. It is a monumental disc that the quartet offers us here. Overwhelming. © Pierre Lamy/Qobuz

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Of All Joys

Attacca Quartet

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1
Summa
00:05:44

Arvo Pärt, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

2
Solo e pensoso
00:05:01

Luca Marenzio, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

3
Flow My Tears (Lachrimae)
00:03:55

John Dowland, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

4
Fantasia a 6 in D Minor
00:03:45

Orlando Gibbons, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

String Quartet No. 3 "Mishima" (Philip Glass)

5
I. 1957 - Award Montage
00:04:11

Philip Glass, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

6
II. November 25 - Ishigaya
00:01:21

Philip Glass, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

7
III. 1934 - Grandmother and Kimitake
00:04:12

Philip Glass, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

8
IV. 1962 - Body Building
00:01:41

Philip Glass, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

9
V. Blood Oath
00:03:16

Philip Glass, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

10
VI. Mishima / Closing
00:02:57

Philip Glass, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

11
Miserere
00:08:00

Gregorio Allegri, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

12
Weep, O Mine Eyes
00:02:53

John Bennet, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

13
Ego flos campi a 7
00:04:38

Jacobus Clemens Non Papa, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

14
Fratres
00:11:32

Arvo Pärt, Composer - Attacca Quartet, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Alan Bise, Producer

(P) 2021 Sony Music Entertainment

Album Description

“And tears and sighs and groans my weary days / Of all joys have deprived”.

This short verse by John Dowland, which inspired the Attacca Quartet the title of its new album released by Sony, sums up well the state of mind of the members of the quartet when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Faced with lockdowns and social distancing measures, music could no longer fulfill its promise of reunification and communion. So, when the easing of health restrictions timidly allowed the resumption of artistic activities, the return to the studios had the effect of a shock for the four young musicians: "We've never been so moved: we had to stop and cry between takes", confesses Andrew Yee (cello). "Of All Joys" is therefore an album of resilience, the one of the newfound light that blinds you and brings you back to the world after spending an eternity locked in the darkness of a cellar.

There is thus a very great spirituality in this album, which brings together Renaissance works and minimalist compositions from the 20th century. Arvo Pärt's Summa, heartbreaking in its sustained earthly clashes, and Allegri's Miserere magnificently transcribed, reveal the highly metaphysical character of the programme. But the quartet avoids any accusation of bigotry, showing that depth can emerge from secular works, as in the madrigals of Dowland or Gibbons. The latter's Fantasia à 6 in D minor is dazzling with colour, and the Attacca serve it perfectly with their sharp timbres, hitting their target right in the heart. The harmonic and rhythmic richness of this composition leads the listener into a multitude of healing emotions. Beauty and joy as a remedy for pain.

It is indeed a direct relationship with the emotions that guides the intelligent and precise approach of the Attacca Quartet, who preferred here the sensual, carnal relationship to the works rather than any historical or musicological loyalty. In fact, of all the works on this programme, only one was actually written for string quartet: the Quartet No. 3 "Mishima" by the composer Philip Glass. It is perhaps with this piece that the genius and essential talent of the New York quartet is fully realised. Music lovers around the world had never recovered from the version recorded by the legendary Kronos Quartet in 1985. Since then, it seemed impossible to improve on it, and yet Attacca has done just that. With a fresh approach to this six-movement quartet, they offer a much more nervous, sharper version. The overall sound is unpredictable, sometimes rounding off the timbre, sometimes piercing the silence with great blows of the bow; one could almost see the poet Mishima appear in the flesh, so well does this interpretation reflect his contradictory personality and the tragedy of his fate!

The album ends as it began, with the meditative and soothing company of Arvo Pärt (here, his Fratres). The musicians barely touch the strings, a thin stream of pure air flows from their instruments. This finale has the effect of an out of body experience and plunges us into a state of blissful wonderment. After hearing it, there is nothing left but silence, to try to penetrate the mystery of this splendid ecstasy with its diaphanous beauty. It is a monumental disc that the quartet offers us here. Overwhelming. © Pierre Lamy/Qobuz

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