The String Quartets

Julia Wolfe - The String Quartets

Bang on a Can Co-Founder Julia Wolfe has turned the string quartet world upside down with these hip and innovative quartets. Her ferociously fresh works, played by three of America's finest young groups, have been exciting audiences and critics for the last ten years. Heard on the stages of the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, the Other MindsFestival, and in the repertoires of the Kronos, Smith, and Mondrian quartets (among others), her quartets are some of the most celebrated and performed in the world. Wolfe's music conveys an intensity and intimacy, a virtuosity and joy of sound that turns the string quartet into a relentless high voltage vehicle of expression. 

Performances by the Lark Quartet, the Cassatt String Quartet, and Ethel, one of New York's most-talked-about quartets.

Recorded and produced by Michael Reisman.

"Intriguing and tag-resistant, Wolfe demonstrates her ability to inject new energy into old forms and avoid easy categorization via volatile creative firepower." 
-Josef Woodward, Los Angeles Times

"Her powerful one-movement works, which combine the violent forward drive of rock music with an aura of minimalist serenity, use the four instruments as a big guitar, whipping psychedelic states of mind into frenzied and ecstatic climaxes." 
-Russell Platt, The New Yorker

Dig Deep

In Dig Deep, the players dig deep into the strings to create a dense, thick, intense, reedy sound. The music wrestles back and forth between the deep attacks and frenzied tunes. The piece reflects a personal struggle, digging deep for compassion and understanding. Dig Deep was commissioned for the Kronos Quartet with support from Nora Norden.

Four Marys

Four Marys was inspired by my love for the mountain dulcimer, a 3-stringed lap instrument from Appalacia. There are no folk tunes in Four Marys but the musical material is derived from gestures that are characteristic of dulcimer playing - the crying quality of the sliding melody string, the mesmerizing strumming of the drone strings. The title Four Marys is the name of a Scottish folk tune that I heard Jean Richie sing and play on mountain dulcimer. Four Marys was commissioned by the Cassatt Quartet with funds from the Koussevitzky Foundation.

Early That Summer

I wrote Early That Summer while I was living in Amsterdam for the year. At the same that I was working on the piece I was reading a book about American political history. In the book all of the political crisis began with some small occurance, with a phrase like "early that summer....". That small occurance would, over time, snowball into something large and explosive. Part way through the book and the piece, I realized that the music was about that sense of anticipation. Early that summer was commissioned by the Lark Quartet with funds from the Meet the Composer's Commissioning Program. – Julia Wolfe


Julia Wolfe
The String Quartets
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