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Fellow Traveler: The Complete String Quartet Works of John Adams / Attacca Quartet

Album Summary

>Adams, John : John's Book of Alleged Dances, for string quartet
>Adams, John : String Quartet
>Adams, John : Fellow Traveler, for string quartet
Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

"Hearing the Attacca Quartet play is to experience a mix of high energy technical skill and musical intelligence. They are an ensemble devoted to their mission with a future of unlimited potential." John Adams The internationally acclaimed Attacca Quartet has become one of America's premier young performing ensembles. Praised by Strad for possessing "maturity beyond its members' years," they made their professional debut in 2007 as part of the Artists International Winners Series in Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall.

American Record Guide, July/August 2013
In the meantime he had established himself as an orchestral composer par excellence and, understandably, spent most of his energies there and in opera. I'd like to see some more chamber music from him. The performances are youthful but very persuasive. The Alleged Dances sound more exciting, and the various vernacular styles Adams alludes to sound more like they're supposed to. Both the Quartet and the Dances draw on figurations and harmonies similar to the 1993 Violin Concerto (Sept/Oct 1996), a work that I love. The Attacca Quartet, students who met at Juilliard, have now played together for 10 years. I hope to hear more of them.


Great recordings, and the only one of the title piece
Attacca Quartet are up against some fierce competition in "John's Book of Alleged Dances" (commissioned and premiered by Kronos Quartet), and the String Quartet (written for the St. Lawrence String Quartet). The title track, "Fellow Traveler", is getting its debut recording on this disc (it was written in 2007), and the young musicians in Attacca Quartet breathe fresh new life into all three of these string quartet works. Highly recommended.
Submitted on 04/24/13 by mwilcox15 
Difficult music to perform, but not quite my cup of tea
This recording is made up of 3 string quartet works by contemporary composer John Adams. I must confess that I have never really been a fan of Adams symphonic works, but thought I would give this a fair shake. Unfortunately, I heard little to change my opinion of his work.

Perhaps the driving element in all of Adams works is rhythm. And the first set of 10 short pieces certainly fits that description. The most approachable of the 10 for me is the 9th piece, Habanera. This has melodic elements that I felt comfortable with not the case with the other short pieces. The next work, String Quartet Part 1 and Part 2, is rhythmic but again there is no melody that stands out, nor any thematic material that I felt I could latch onto. The final piece on the recording, the title track, is very approachable and has a driven melodic theme throughout that anyone in todays busy world should definitely be able to relate to, almost as if it is a soundtrack for the busyness of the day-to-day working environment.

All of that being said, the music is very difficult to play and the Attacca Quartet is extremely precise and is obviously working very hard to do these works justice. I would very much like to hear them perform pieces from not-so-contemporary composers, as I have a feeling that this quartet would do some amazing Bartok. Unfortunately, I have come to the conclusion that this composer is just not for me. However, those listeners that enjoy his work will likely be captivated by the quality of the performance and music making herein. But if you are not an Adams fan, then stay away.

Submitted on 06/10/13 by KlingonOpera 
A fresh take
The Attacca Quartet is a relatively new quartet, which is significant. Because they bring a youthful attitude and energy to Adam's music -- and the works benefit greatly from it.

"John's Book of Alleged Dances" is a wonderful collection of made-up dances. And its a set that should be played with a sense of fun. How can you take movements named "Dogjam" or "Alligator Escalator" otherwise? Yet this is demanding music that only works when played with precision and energy. The Attica pulls it all together, and delivers a winning performance. I won't say this is the definitive performance, but it's pretty darned close.

Also included is Adams' 2008 String Quartet, and the title select, "Fellow Traveler." The latter is a birthday present to Adams' opera collaborator Peter Sellers, and receives its world premier with this release. Although a short work, its unaffected nature and spontaneity makes it an ideal encore piece -- a function it sort of serves in this release.
Submitted on 11/12/13 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Adams, John : John's Book of Alleged Dances, for string quartet
  • Ensemble: Attacca Quartet
  • Running Time: 32 min. 1 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 1994

>Adams, John : String Quartet
  • Running Time: 19 min. 55 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2008

>Adams, John : Fellow Traveler, for string quartet
  • Running Time: 5 min. 11 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2007