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Quatuor Bozzini

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Sunday, March 1, 2009 @ 20:00
The Music Gallery

The Music Gallery and Continuum present Montréal's Quatuor Bozzini in a performance of works by Martijn Voorvelt, Richard Ayres, Hanna Kulenty and Walter Boudreau

ComposerPiece
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)
Walter BoudreauLe grand méridien (2002)

Bios

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 (www.collectionqb.com) 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.

For more information on Quatuor Bozzini, please visit quatuorbozzini.ca/accueil.e/
For audio samples of Quatuor Bozzini, please visit quatuorbozzini.ca/accueil.e/ and click on "radio"

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 www.schott-music.com/shop/persons/featured/64540/
For audio samples of Richard Ayres' work, please visit www.myspace.com/richardayresmusic

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 www.martijnvoorvelt.com

Photo of Walter BoudreauWalter Boudreau studied analysis and composition with Gilles Tremblay at the Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, Bruce Mather at McGill University and Serge Garant at the Université de Montréal. A recipient of numerous grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, he continued his training with Messiaen in Paris, Boulez in Cleveland, and Xenakis, Ligeti, Stockhausen and Kagel in Darmstadt. He was also supported by the Canada Council for the Arts to pursue research in computer music at the Centre de calcul of the Université de Montréal, at SFU in Vancouver and at the Center for Music Experiment of the University of California, San Diego. A composer of great originality, Boudreau already has a catalog of more than 40 works including music for orchestra, voice, instrumental ensemble, piano, percussion, as well as music for film. Winner of the first CBC Composition Competition (1974) and of the Jules-Léger Prize (1982) for new chamber music, he was awarded the Grand Prix Paul Gilson by the Community of French Language Radios for Golgot(h)a. For the past twenty years, Walter Boudreau has directed numerous ensembles and orchestras in the interpretation of 20th century music, most of these performances being recent works and premieres. He has recorded a dozen albums for Radio Canada International (RCI), the Société nouvelle d'enregistrement (SNE), Polydor and Centrediscs. Walter Boudreau has been artistic director and principal conductor of the Société de musique contemporaine du Québec (SMCQ) since April 1988.

Le grand méridien (2002)

Let the adventure begin! In 1988, I wrote the music for a documentary by Marie Décary about two Canadian artists who were part of the Venice Biennial: Roland Brenner and Michel Goulet. Fascinated by images that depicted "contemporary" works parachuted into a Renaissance setting, I made music from this period the basis of my composition, and "contemporized" it using transformational techniques that had developed over the years. I settled on one of 46 motets by Venetian Tomas Luis de Victoria (1548-1611); I was seduced by his four-voice respond "Tradiderunt me in manus impiorum" ("They have delivered me into the hands of the wicked"). Six other works for various instrumental ensembles followed, all based on the same motet. For the moment, Le grand méridien, or "The Great Central 'Nerve'," concludes this cycle of "Baroque" works, by way of an "extreme" sedimentary process, in which the form and content not only merge, but fuse beyond the kaleidoscopic prism of historical references and psychedelic intoxication of pure invention. The result is an unusual object, itself the bearer of a new "message". With this object in mind, a "hard core/heavy metal" instrumental group like the string quartet seemed to me in many ways the ideal brewing pot for this rich alchemical mixture, from which I hoped to distill something like Radium, Nirvana, or Redemption.