Heavy: works by Don Byron, John Halle, Julia Wolfe, John King, Raz Mesinai, David Lang et al.

> String Quartet No. 2, "Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye" - I. —
> String Quartet No. 2, "Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye" - II. —
> String Quartet No. 2, "Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye" - III. —
> String Quartet No. 2, "Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye" - IV. —
> Spheres - Spheres
> Early that Summer - Early that Summer
> No Nickel Blues - No Nickel Blues
> La Citadelle - La Citadelle
> Wed (version for string quartet) - Wed (version for string quartet)
> String Circle No. 1 - String Circle No. 1
> Rounds - Rounds

Album Summary

>Byron, Don : Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye (String Quartet no 2)
>Halle, John : Sphere[']s, for string quartet
>Wolfe, Julia : Early That Summer
>King, John : No Nickel Blues, for string quartet
>Mesinai, Raz : La Citadelle, for string quartet
>Lang, David : Memory Pieces
>Bunch, Kenji [Viola] : String Circle 1, for viola & string quartet
>Zarvos, Marcelo : Rounds, for string quartet
Performer Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

Acclaimed as America's premier post-classical string quartet, ETHEL presents a power-packed, sonic snapshot of the group's life in New York City in its latest album Heavy. It's only fitting that after 14 years of performing, commissioning, composing, collaborating and living in New York City, ETHEL celebrates the composers from NYC's music community. Re¬corded over an 18-month period by Cornelius Dufallo (violin), Dorothy Lawson (cello), Mary Rowell (violin), and Ralph Farris (viola), Heavy features works by eight celebrated contemporary composers: Don Byron, John Halle, Julia Wolfe, John King, Raz Mesinai, David Lang, Kenji Bunch, and Marcelo Zarvos. The album follows an organic progression from Don Byron's intense, jazz-influenced "String Quartet No. 2: Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye" tracks to the engaging "Rounds" by Brazilian film composer Marcelo Zarvos. "ETHEL has been playing most of these composers' works ever since the group's inception 14 years ago," says Ralph Farris, co-founder of ETHEL. "These composers - this city - are so much a part of who we are as a group. This album serves as an homage to New York City, its people, and its music." "indefatigable and eclectic". - New York Times "vital and brilliant". -The New Yorker "fearless... pioneering" - Time Out New York

American Record Guide, January/February 2013
The program performed by Ethel sounds much louder than is usual with string quartets. There is a certain amount of clang built into the sound that imbues it with a percussive force and a small amount of electric buzz that brings the instruments closer to electric guitars and basses. Pieces are more approachable than Colcuccino's owing to their melodic thrusts and use newer, though still easily recognizable, forms than the Quadrants program. Kenji Bunch's String Circle 1 is a hoedown; John King's No Nickel Blues is a mix of Slavic folksong and blues. Sphere[']s, by John Halle, begins by building some foreboding, repetitive layers before dropping a reworked version of a familiar tune into the mix.

Notes & Reviews:

There are so many striking aspects to Heavy, the 2012 album by the self-proclaimed post-classical string quartet Ethel, that it's hard to know where to begin. The music itself, written between 1996 and 2009 by eight composers, most of whom are based in NYC, is terrifically, consistently strong. The power, inventiveness, diversity of repertoire, and the composers' exceptionally high level of skill in writing for string quartet make this album reminiscent of the groundbreaking releases by the Kronos Quartet from the 1980s and early '90s. Ethel is by any standard a remarkably capable ensemble, and the players demonstrate a fearless mastery of this music's daunting technical and interpretive challenges. Innova describes its release as "the perfect answer to Light" (Ethel's 2006 album with that title), and heavy is a good starting point for characterizing the music's gritty drive, intensity, ferocity, and, frequently, its volume. The CD opens with Don Byron's String Quartet No. 2: Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye, a dazzling, inspired reimagining of Gaye's songs. No less impressive and somewhat similar in character is John Halle's Sphere[']s, an homage to Thelonious Monk, with richly textured rhythmic overlays and an irresistible momentum. In contrast to the urban aggressiveness of these and most of the other works on the album are David Lang's wrenchingly poignant Wed and Marcelo Zarvos' Rounds, whose infectious groove and sunny sweetness might not technically be considered "heavy," but who could complain? The sound of the Innova CD is pristine and brilliant, with an almost startling sense of immediacy. Highly recommended for fans of new music and of spectacular string quartet performances. ~ Stephen Eddins



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Works Details

>Byron, Don : Four Thoughts on Marvin Gaye (String Quartet no 2)
  • Ensemble: Ethel Quartet
  • Running Time: 3 min. 2 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>Halle, John : Sphere[']s, for string quartet
  • Running Time: 9 min. 13 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2004

>Wolfe, Julia : Early That Summer
  • Running Time: 11 min. 51 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary

>King, John : No Nickel Blues, for string quartet
  • Running Time: 6 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009

>Mesinai, Raz : La Citadelle, for string quartet
  • Running Time: 10 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2007

>Lang, David : Memory Pieces
  • Running Time: 4 min. 43 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1996

>Bunch, Kenji [Viola] : String Circle 1, for viola & string quartet
  • Performer: Kenji Bunch (Viola)
  • Running Time: 4 min. 36 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2005

>Zarvos, Marcelo : Rounds, for string quartet
  • Running Time: 8 min. 39 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Chamber Music
  • Written: 2006