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4+four / Turtle Island Quartet, Ying String Quartet


Release Date: 02/22/2005 
Label:  Telarc   Catalog #: 60630   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Oliver NelsonMark SummerDavid BalakrishnanDarius Milhaud,   ... 
Performer:  Evan PriceDavid BalakrishnanMads TollingDavid Ying,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turtle Island String QuartetYing String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Multi 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This isn’t crossover; it’s meeting in the middle. The Turtle Island String Quartet has long specialized in not specializing; the group plays (mostly) original or new music inspired by a variety of non-classical American traditions, particularly jazz. The Ying Quartet, on the other hand, is a strictly classical group, although it’s well known for its innovative outreach programs. The Yings get secondary billing (and just a small photo on the back) on this new Telarc disc, but as performers, they’re equal partners with the Turtle Island guys. The music itself, most of it composed by Turtle Island members, is carefully tailored to let each quartet do what it does best in concert with the other, although the Turtle Island players have nothing Read more to be ashamed of in terms of tone and technique, and the Yings can swing quite naturally.

The disc opens with the Oliver Nelson standard Yearnin’, in which the full octet turns in an idiomatic if not obviously improvised performance; no doubt the Turtle Islanders are responsible for the more wailing lines. Julie-O, by Turtle Island cellist Mark Summer, is heard here in its cello duet form, with Summer joined by David Ying; it’s the sort of contemporary Americana you’d expect to hear from Mark O’Connor and Edgar Meyer. Mara’s Garden of False Delights, by Turtle Island first violinist David Balakrishnan, would fit nicely onto a program of mainstream classical music, despite (or because of) its various cultural points of reference. We get the syncopations of American folk music, hints of Indian scales, a touch of minimalism in a couple of spots (again, something that can be traced to India), and some swinging jazz. And that’s just in the first of the three movements. In terms of style, the brief second movement almost could have been lifted from Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2. The finale has jazzy intricacies of interdependent lines bracketing another quasi-Indian section.

Despite having about one-third of its content shaved off, this version of Milhaud’s La création du monde is one of the more atmospheric on disc, although the ensemble, surprisingly, does not make quite as much of the music’s jazz inspiration as some conductors have. Violinist Evan Price contributes the amusing Variations on an Unoriginal Theme, sort of a battle of the quartets, in which the Ying Quartet plays variations on the Haydnesque theme in various classical styles, alternating with the Turtle Islanders’s vernacular treatments; at one point, quasi-Stravinsky turns into a mambo. The disc ends with an arrangement of the Beatles’s Because, almost in the style of Piazzolla.

This is a disc that seems dull if you play it as background music, but is really quite striking if you sit down and pay attention. The musicians all play idiomatically, which is tough when you’re dealing with so many idioms, and Telarc’s surround DSD recording makes them sound quite lovely and present. The rear channels are used only for ambience, which is probably a good thing (although Telarc once used them quite effectively as direct sources in a Los Angeles Guitar Quartet SACD). Still, I wish the two ensembles were just a bit more clearly differentiated from each other up front.

James Reel, FANFARE
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Works on This Recording

1.
Learnin' by Oliver Nelson
Performer:  Evan Price (Violin), David Balakrishnan (Violin), Mads Tolling (Viola),
David Ying (Cello), Phillip Ying (Viola), Janet Ying (Violin),
Timothy Ying (Violin), Mark Summer (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turtle Island String Quartet,  Ying String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New Yo 
Length: 5 Minutes 24 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Evan Price.
Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New York (04/01/2004 - 04/03/2004) 
2.
Julie-O by Mark Summer
Performer:  David Ying (Cello), Mark Summer (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988 
Venue:  Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New Yo 
Length: 4 Minutes 4 Secs. 
Notes: Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New York (04/01/2004 - 04/03/2004) 
3.
Mara's Garden of False Delights by David Balakrishnan
Performer:  Phillip Ying (Viola), David Ying (Cello), Evan Price (Violin),
David Balakrishnan (Violin), Mads Tolling (Viola), Mark Summer (Cello),
Timothy Ying (Violin), Janet Ying (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turtle Island String Quartet,  Ying String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
Venue:  Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New Yo 
Length: 16 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New York (04/01/2004 - 04/03/2004) 
4.
La création du monde, Op. 81 by Darius Milhaud
Performer:  Phillip Ying (Viola), David Ying (Cello), David Balakrishnan (Violin),
Evan Price (Violin), Mads Tolling (Viola), Mark Summer (Cello),
Timothy Ying (Violin), Janet Ying (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turtle Island String Quartet,  Ying String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1923; France 
Venue:  Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New Yo 
Length: 10 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Daniel Seidenberg.
Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New York (04/01/2004 - 04/03/2004) 
5.
Variations on an Unoriginal Theme by Evan Price
Performer:  Mark Summer (Cello), Mads Tolling (Viola), Evan Price (Violin),
David Balakrishnan (Violin), Timothy Ying (Violin), Phillip Ying (Viola),
Janet Ying (Violin), David Ying (Cello)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turtle Island String Quartet,  Ying String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Venue:  Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New Yo 
Length: 7 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Notes: Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New York (04/01/2004 - 04/03/2004) 
6.
Because by John Lennon
Performer:  Janet Ying (Violin), Phillip Ying (Viola), David Ying (Cello),
Mark Summer (Cello), Timothy Ying (Violin), David Balakrishnan (Violin),
Evan Price (Violin), Mads Tolling (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Turtle Island String Quartet,  Ying String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1969; England 
Venue:  Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New Yo 
Length: 4 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Mark Summer.
Sosnoff Auditorium, Bard College, New York (04/01/2004 - 04/03/2004) 

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