The Zia, Indians’ symbol for the sacred sun, captures the adventurous spirit and global pulse of this CD from the award winning Del Sol String Quartet. The composers represented—Gabriela Lena Frank, Lou Harrison, José Evangelista, Reza Vali and Elena Kats-Chernin—all trained in the Western European tradition, reach back to ancient and traditional folk music sources and cultures from Peru, Turkey, Spain, Iran, and Uzbekistan in creating vibrant new music for string quartet.
While the five contemporary composers on this CD are deeply tied to the Western European music tradition--especially its system of notation--they draw on ancient and traditional folk music from four corners of the world and make it new byRead more incorporating techniques such as inventive intonations or heterophony.
The eldest of these, Lou Harrison (1917-2003), was encouraged to view the world’s vast array of traditional music influences by his teacher, Henry Cowell (1894-1965).
Cowell went beyond his predecessors (Beethoven, Rimsky-Korsakov, Bartok, and others) by proselytizing for in-depth studies of music in Asia, Africa, Central and South America and what we call the “Middle East,” rather than just a few selected European ethnicities. In retrospect, his lifelong work created a more welcoming environment for those who emerged after his death, including José Evangelista, b. 1943, Reza Vali, b. 1952, Elena Kats-Chernin, b. 1957, and Gabriela Lena Frank, b. 1972.
The San Francisco based Del Sol String Quartet, founded 1992, has long made a practice of fostering contemporary music from throughout the entire Western Hemisphere, working with the composers themselves whenever possible.
Critically acclaimed as “steeped in bravery and imagination” (James M. Keller, Chamber Music Magazine (February 2007), this high energy quartet of master musicians explores new ways to interact with audiences, composers and artists across cultures and art forms. Read less
Music of the worldNovember 11, 2013By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"The Zia Indians used a symbol for the sun that had rays going out to the four compass points. Zia gathers together music from the four corners of the globe for a truly international program of contemporary music. <br />
The album opens with "Leyendas (Legends): An Andean Walkabout" by Gabriela Lena Frank. The work is series of short sketches based on Chilean native culture. Some references are overt, such as using fourth and fifths in imitation of Andean pipes; while others are quite subtle, such as incorporating the Dies Irae into a movement depicting native professional mourners. Frank's amalgamation of traditional elements with contemporary classical tradition creates a work that sounds simultaneously exotic and familiar. <br />
<br. harrison's="" best="" known="" for="" his="" explorations="" of="" non-western="" music.="" "string="" quartet="" set,"="" though,="" is="" based="" on="" european="" classical="" music,="" albeit="" not="" the="" kind="" one="" might="" expect.="" harrison="" uses="" music="" a="" medieval="" minnesinger,="" an="" obscure="" french="" baroque="" composer,="" and="" turkish="" court.="" completed="" in="" 1979,="" work="" sounds="" as="" fresh="" modern="" if="" it="" had="" been="" penned="" yesterday.="" <br="">
<br /> Spanish composer Jose Evangelista weaves 12 Spanish folk songs together in his piece "Spanish Garland." This deceptively simple and attractive work presents the source material in a single movement that seamlessly glides from song to song.
<br /> Reza Vali's "Nayshaborak" is part of his "Calligraphy" series. It recasts the musical traditions of Vali's native Iran into Western classical forms. And quite successfully, too. The violins (to my ears) effectively emulate the Persian setar in an entrancing fashion.
<br /> Australia-based composer Elena Kats-Chermin's "Fast Blue Village 2" is a sophisticated, cosmopolitan sketch of a major city. As the title suggests, there are bluesy bending of notes, coupled with the relentless drive of minimalism. Not that this is minimalist piece. The texture is quite thick and the melody churns and changes continually, capturing the high-energy of a bustling metropolis.
<br /> Although the styles on this release are wide-ranging, the Del Sol handles it all with ease. And no wonder. The quartet actively promotes contemporary music that stretches beyond the borders of this country. And they frequently work directly with the composers (as they did with some on this album). With that level of commitment, the results can't be anything other than a great performance. And in this case, a great program, too.