Quatuor Bozzini

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008 @ 20:30
Muziekgebouw Grote Zaal

Tonight's concert is Quatuor Bozzini's first in the Netherlands and will feature a program of strong and individual Canadian and Dutch voices. Michael Oesterle and Martin Arnold are longtime friends and colleagues of the Bozzinis; Oesterle is not unknown to the dutch public – he is the winner of the 1995 Gaudeamus prize. His string quartet "Daydream Mechanics V" is among the Quartet´s most frequently performed repertoire. Martin Arnold is one of Canada's best kept secrets and Quatuor Bozzini is actively working towards changing this. A CD with his music for string quartet will be released on Bozzini's own "collection qb" in early 2010. Tonight's repertoire will also be performed at concerts in Montreal and Toronto. Pre-concert talk with Michel Khalifa 19:30.

Richard AyresNo. 38 Three Small Pieces for String Quartet (2003)
Hanna KulentyString Quartet No. 3 (Tell me about it) (2006)
Martijn Voorvelt4/4 for string quartet (1999)
Martin ArnoldContact;Vault (1997)
Michael OesterleDaydream Mechanics V (2001)


Photo of Quatuor BozziniPraised for "its intense musicality and immense sensitivity" (Musicworks, Canada), Quatuor Bozzini brings to the world its irresistible passion for music. It has distinguished itself through its specific, carefully considered repertoire and distinct style of playing. For almost ten years, its programming seeks to engender productive conversation between strong creative voices through traditional concerts or resolutely avant-garde events. The quartet presents its own annual season of concerts in Montréal; its musical laboratory, the Composer's Kitchen; and tours throughout Europe, the US, and Canada. In 2004 the quartet created its own recording label ( and has also recorded with Atma classique, Wandelweiser Records and Wergo; the quartet can be heard regularly on European and Canadian radio. To date, the group has commissioned over forty works and premiered more than one hundred; their repertoire includes more than one hundred composers ranging from Martin Arnold and Gerald Barry to James Tenney, Claude Vivier and Christian Wolff. In 2006, the Quatuor Bozzini received the prestigious Förderpreis awarded by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung and, in 2007, the Prix Opus "Rayonnement à l'étranger" from the Conseil québécois de la musique.

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Photo of Richard AyresRichard Ayres was born in Cornwall (Great Britain) in 1965. In 1986 he followed Morton Feldman's classes at the Darmstadt and Dartington summer schools, and after this experience decided to make music a full-time occupation.

He studied composition, electronic music, and trombone at the polytechnic in Huddersfield. He settled in the Netherlands in 1989 where he followed the postgraduate composition course at the Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag, studying with Louis Andriessen, and graduating in 1992. He took up a teaching position there from 2004-6 before moving to the Amsterdam Conservatory.

Since 1990 Richard Ayres has worked as a composer, receiving commissions from leading European contemporary music ensembles and orchestras, as well as writing for more unusual instrumental combinations formed for specific projects. Most recently he wrote No. 42 In the Alps for Barbara Hannigan and the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble. He is currently working on a new opera.

No. 38 (Three Small Pieces for String Quartet)

Originally composed for the Mondriaan Quartet's UK tour, only two of the three pieces were performed. The complete work was performed for the first time by the Bozzini Quartet in November 2008.

The first piece is a short tribute to the Rumanian singer Maria Tenase. The Quay brothers showed me a book containing photographs of Tanase, once as popular in her country as Piaf was in France. I was very moved by one picture, a simple portrait, faded and in grainy black and white, but with her eyes still so piercing and alive. The music is an elegy for such beauty and spirit now faded. The solo violinist plays a simple melody accompanied by the other strings playing in the style of mandolins, tremolo, with a very thin plectrum. Gradually the accompaniment breaks down leaving the solo isolated and alone.

The second piece is rough, fast, folk-like melody in 11/16 time, built upon the open strings of the cello, and accompanied by fast violins.

The last movement has the hopefully self explanatory title of "Countess Eva von Spendu (on a horse) gallops through the forest (pausing four times to contemplate natural splendor)". It contains hunting gallops, a Feldmanesque 19 bar blues, some devilish fiddling, moments of repose and contemplation, and a lyrical finale.

For more information on Richard Ayres please visit
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Photo of Hanna KulentyHanna Kulenty (b. 1961 in Białstok, Poland) began her music education as a pianist. From 1980 to 1986 she studied composition with Włodzimierz Kotoński at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw; from 1986-1988 she did her post-graduate work with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. She participated in the International Courses for Young Composers organized by the Polish Section of the ISCM, and the International Summer Courses of New Music at Darmstadt. In 1985 her composition for symphony orchestra, Ad Unum, received second prize at the European Young Composers' Competition, organized in Amsterdam by the European Cultural Foundation. Kulenty has received numerous awards including the DAAD scholarship (Berlin), and has been commissioned in Poland and Holland; she has taught composition in several European countries. Her music has been featured at festivals in Poland, Denmark, England, Germany and Holland, is currently available on three CDs and has been broadcast and recorded throughout Europe. Kulenty's compositional style has evolved over the years. Her earlier, multi-layered music often called for vast instrumental resources; her orchestral style, for its sense of drama, expressive intensity, and use of rhythm, has been compared to Penderecki or Xenakis. Her recent turn towards minimalism may be attributed to studying with Andriessen; Kulenty calls this phase "European trance music" and often structures her compositions as single, powerful arcs. Kulenty credits her intuition and the subconscious as the sources for the haunting sonorities and compelling emotional intensity of the music she creates. Whatever the explanation, the result certainly deserves our attention.

String Quartet No.3 - Tell me about it

Shortly before I wrote String Quartet No.3 - Tell me about it I had already written two versions of Tell me about it. The first version, Tell me about it 1, is a work for clarinet, trombone, cello and piano. The work consists of two couplets, two refrains and a coda. A second version, Tell me about it 2, is a very short piece of only 2 minutes for bass clarinet, trombone, cello and double bass. It consists of only one refrain. String Quartet No.3 - Tell me about it is the third version. It is by far the most rich version, consisting of two couplets, two refrains and a coda that could be interpreted freely. I wrote this cycle of three works all in 2007. I was inspired by the song Tell Me All About It, sung by Natalie Cole, in 2002. The rhythmical construction fascinated me and I use the same number of bars in the couplet and refrains. Although the melody in String Quartet No.3 - Tell me about it has nothing to do with the song of Natalie Cole, it should be played in a "jazzy" way.

Photo of Martijn Voorvelt"Extreme emotions", "well-balanced", "beautiful", "compelling", "whacky", "very musical", "as much theatrical as musical", "interesting, less conventional timbral palette", "uncompromising radicalism": these are all quotes from reviews that suggest how Martijn Voorvelt's music is perceived.

Voorvelt (Amsterdam, 1967) has a Ph.D. in musicology; composing was only a hobby until his Raging, building unexpectedly won the EOE Optiebeurs prize 1994 for young European composers. He happily decided to focus on composition. Since then his works have been performed in many countries around the world.

Voorvelt regards a musical performance as a theatrical act, both dramatic and absurd. Visual elements and surprising events are often found in his music. A quest for uninhibited expression has led him to experiment with independent parts and overlapping compositions. But there are seductive melodies and harmonies as well. Above all, the music is about the moment and the intensity of the performance.

Voorvelt is also a singer-songwriter and a keen birdwatcher.

4/4 (1999)

4/4 was prompted by watching television images of victims of the war in Kosovo, and is dedicated to these victims. A bunch of physically and psychologically gravely harmed individuals meet. Each is suffering from his or her own wounds or demons. They have lost so much that normal social behaviour seems hardly possible. Although attempts at communication do take place and the monologues do correspond in several ways, these characters mainly talk at cross-purposes. As a result, 4/4 is not a string quartet in the traditional sense. The title refers to the fragmented nature of the quartet: the piece is actually a tragi-comic combination of four solo discourses. Finally, towards the end, a real, unified string quartet is heard as if it falls out of the sky. But something is still wrong...

For more information on Martijn Voorvelt please visit

Toronto-based composer and performer Martin Arnold studied in Edmonton, Banff, the Hague, and Victoria where his teachers were Alfred Fisher, Frederic Rzewski, John Cage, Louis Andriessen, Gilius van Bergeijk, Rudolf Komorous, Douglas Collinge, and Michael Longton. Arnold is a founding member of the Drystone Orchestra and from 1995-2000 he was artistic director of The Burdocks. Besides having notated pieces performed internationally, Arnold currently plays guitar, banjo, melodica and live electronics in Marmots and Cow Paws as well as in bands led by Ryan Driver and Eric Chenaux and in a variety of ad hoc improvised music settings. Arnold works as a gardener and teaches in the Cultural Studies Department of Trent University.

Contact; Vault (1997)

"Vault" is the name of the long melody that makes up most of the material of Contact; Vault. It's one of those polyvalent words that carries a few meanings that often seem quite opposed in character. In this case we have (at least) an enclosure and an action: a confining chamber for sealing something away and the act of propelling oneself over a barrier. I'm not putting these ideas in opposition. I like the idea of something confined and internal (that asks for careful, myopic attention) serving as a location from which all kinds of lines-of-flight can erupt and spill out delirious associations and speculations which are activated in the listener and bump around together through the experience of the piece. The "Contact" in the title can also suggest many possibilities but I was mostly thinking of it in reference to the way the player produces sound, the way they make contact with their instrument. This is a crucial part of this composition in that I've tried to re-invent the string quartet, to turn it into a strange collection of quiet, insidious, and hopefully wonderful, discrete instruments.

Michael Oesterle was born in Ulm, Germany, in 1968. He immigrated to Canada in 1982, and since 1996 has been living in Montréal. He has received several awards, such as the Gaudeamus Prize, the Grand Prize at the 12th CBC Radio National Competition for Young Composers, and the Canada Council Jules Léger Prize. Oesterle's works have been performed and commissioned by ensembles and soloists including Ensemble Modern (Frankfurt), the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), cellist Yegor Dyachkov, Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM), the Ives Ensemble (Amsterdam), sopranos Karina Gauvin and Suzie Leblanc, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (VSO), Ensemble Intercontemporain (Paris), Continnuum (Toronto), Quatuor Bozzini, Groundswell, the Chicago Civic Orchestra, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra (MCO), Soundstreams Canada, Asko/Schönberg Ensemble (Amsterdam), The National Arts Orchestra (Ottawa), les Percussions de Strasbourg, and the Montréal Symphony Orchestra. He has produced projects in collaboration with composer Gerhard Staebler, violinist Clemens Merkel, painter Christine Unger, video/installation artist Wanda Koop and Bonnie Baxter and choreographer Isabelle Van Grimde, Barbara Bourget, and Dominique Porte. He composed the music for CNOTE, a film by animator Christopher Hinton, produced by the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). CNOTE won the 2005 GENIE award for best animated-short. In 1997 he founded the Montréal based Ensemble KORE with pianist Marc Couroux, and between 2001 and 2004 he was composer-in-residence with l'Orchestre Metropolitain du Grand Montréal.

Daydream Mechanics V

The phrase "Daydream Mechanics" is taken from the title of a book by Quebec poet Nicole Brossard. This is the fifth in a series of pieces with this title, all of which use mechanistic devices to provide the base material. This quartet recalls the awkward adventures of childhood when the backyard seemed as full of fearsome possibilities as any unexplored geography. The simple mechanics of controlling one's own maneuvers make a challenge of a cultivated wilderness.