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Arts & Dialogue: Spektral Quartet
November 6, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
The Chicago-based Spektral Quartet are funny people. Their bios once took the form of Q&As with questions including “Which string quartet in history had the best hair?” and “What should Spektral Quartet’s metal, alter-ego band name be?” (The best answer: “Extended Deathniques.”) When performing Morton Feldman’s 6-hour-long second string quartet, they created a ridiculous, ‘80s-style workout video called “SIX-HOUR ABS!” And their most recent album, Serious Business, includes a composition by Chris Fisher-Lockhead built around close transcriptions of stand-up comics. Their humor—and their personalities in general—are integral to what they do, signs of the expressivity central to their musical approach. This approach allows the quartet to devise creative, diverse programs that draw connections across centuries. For this concert, they contemplate conceptions of Romanticism. It opens with Augusta Read Thomas’ Chi, one of two works on the program written specifically for the quartet. Using “Chi” and other Eastern concepts of energy as guiding metaphors, the piece seeks to embody the sound of Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. While the odd numbered movements brim with interlocking rhythms, it is the even-numbered movements, with their inward gaze and individual focus, that paint a vision of romanticism. The concert concludes with one of the pillars of Romantic-era string quartet repertory: Brahms’ first quartet from 1873. The work sits at a historical hinge, simultaneously paying homage to Beethoven and other early 19th-century masters while also paving the way for later advances by Bartók and Schoenberg. Discover more here.