Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Brooklyn Rider, the American string quartet lauded for its electrifying performances and progressive vision, has joined Universal Music's Mercury Classics label in an exclusive partnership. The first album - A Walking Fire, to be released April 30, 2013 - reflects the artistic independence and enterprising mix of classic quartet literature and new works that has earned the foursome of violinist Johnny Gandelman, violinist Colin Jacobsen violinist Nicholas Cords and cellist Eric Jacobsen such wide acclaim. A Walking Fire features a seminal work by Be'la Barto'k alongside new works by contemporary Russian-American composer Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin and Brooklyn Rider's own Colin Jacobsen.
Brooklyn Rider violist Nicholas Cords says: "As inherent musicians, we believe that getting underneath the surface of a musical tradition other than the one we inherit can be life-changing. All of the works on A Walking Fire are unique products of this kind of encounter and we are thrilled to take our listeners along for the ride. The sense of embarking on a shared journey also seems a fitting way to celebrate an exciting new partnership with Mercury Classics."
A Walking Fire resonates with a spirit of wide-eyed exploration and passionate creation. The album includes Brooklyn Rider's signature interpretation of Bartok's String Quartet No. 2, a work the Hungarian composer and musical explorer wrote during the years of World War I. Ranging from the jaunty and playful to the lyrical and funereal, Ljova's Culai channels the sound and spirit of Nicolae Neacsu, nicknamed "Culai," the alte violinist-vocalist of the famed Gypsy ensemble Taraf de Hai douks. Colin Jacobsen's Three Miniatures for String Quartet is an irresistibly lyrical musical fantasy stemming from the composer's appreciation of the close connection between music, poetry and the visual arts in Persian culture - an appreciation gleaned from Jacobsen's friendship with Persian masters musician Kayhan Kalhor.
According to Brooklyn Rider, A Walking Fire "takes us on a guided expedition to three legendary musical center. With stops in the Romanian village Clejani, World War One era Budapest, and the fragrant gardens of Esfahan, A Walking Fire celebrates the transformative nature of travel and its potential to act as a creative catalyst."
According to Time Out New York, Brooklyn Rider is an ensemble that "demystifies contemporary classical music and invites everyone into the tent." Much of Brooklyn Rider's desire to extend the borders of conventional string quartet programming has come from their longstanding participation in Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble. Brooklyn Rider has worked with such composers as Glass, Ljova, Derek Bermel, Lisa Bielawa, Osvaldo Golijov, Jenny Scheinman, Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky and Evan Ziporyn. Another integral part of the quartet's work involves creative collaborations with other artists, such as Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, Syrian/Armenian visual artist Kevork Mourad, traditional and technology-based Japanese shakuhachi player Kojiro Umezaki, Irish fiddle player Martin Hayes, the trio 2 Foot Yard, banjo player Be'la Fleck and singer/songwriters Christina Courtin and Suzzane Vega.
American Record Guide, July/August 2013
This new record by Brooklyn Rider, the immensely talented string quartet, includes Bartok's Second Quartet (1917). The profits of Bartok's work with Hungarian folk music are abundantly evident. Brooklyn Rider's vigor and sheer technical ability give new life to an old work, from the formative stages of Bartok's career. They show sensitivity and maturity as well as excitement and enthusiasm. The three works are only miniature in their length: they are dense and tightly packed with material, overflowing with expression and more opportunities for the players to impress us with their virtuosity as individuals and as an ensemble. Listening to the record straight through makes me wish I could see them play. Indeed, these three works in this order have often been the first half of Brooklyn Rider concert programs. If you have the chance to see the young quartet, take it! In the meantime, enjoy the record and look forward to what they do next.
Audio Mixers: Jesse Lewis ; Jesse Brayman.
Liner Note Authors: Lev "Ljova" Zhurbin; Colin Jacobsen ; Nicholas Cords.
Recording information: Avatar Studios, NYC (11/2012).