Quatuor Alcan: Carte Postale

Album cover art for upc 722056250221
Label: ATMA
Catalog: ACD2 2502
Format: CD

QUATUOR ALCAN

Somewhat to my surprise, considering the varied origins of this music, the origin of this postcard is not Spain, Greece, or Russia, but Canada. Based in Chicoutimi, Quebec, this is a lowkeyed but beautifully balanced string quartet that has put together a program from a number of composers, some of them now living in Canada. Jose Vieira Brandao (1911–2002) was from Brazil, and his lovely piece shares the kind of lovely folk atmosphere we know from Villa- Lobos. Alessandro Annunziata (b 1968) is from Rome, though his piece refers rather to Greece in its description of the Cyclades archipelago in a windstorm. He was also influenced by Dimitri Nicolau (1948–2008), a real Greek composer whose dance, arranged by Annunziata, refers to a tailor who used to pick up his red violin when bored and play lovely melodies. Returning to this side of the ocean we meet Paquito D’Rivera (b. 1948), a Cuban-American whose Wapango is actually an Afro-American dance. Then there’s Uruguayan Miguel Del Aguila (b. 1957) who uses a little of everything in his Presto 2. So far the pieces have been one-movement numbers. Moving into Canada, however, we have two longer works. Jose Evangelista (b. 1943), a professor Emeritus of Montreal University, collects 12 folk melodies from his native Spain into a pleasant suite. Finally we get a complete three-movement quartet from Airat Ichmouratov (b. 1973), who moved to Canada from the Ukraine in 1997 and played on the streets and in klezmer bands while developing his reputation as a composer. Sounds like my son Ian. They should meet! His quartet is a fine work. Like the rest of the program, it is basically folk-influenced and very attractive.

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