ATTACCA QUARTET share the new track from their upcoming album “Of All Joys” which features their original take on great Minimalist and Renaissance works. Their new single “String Quartet No. 3 (Mishima) Mishima/Closing” is a mesmeric and uplifting work by Minimalist composer Philip Glass – listen now.
Out on November 5 on Sony Classical, “Of All Joys” also features Minimalist works by Arvo Pärt and several Renaissance composers such as John Dowland, Orland Gibbons amd Gregorio Allegri. The album is centred around the six movements of Glass’ “String Quartet No. 3 (“Mishima”)” which were themselves excerpted from Glass’ score for Paul Schrader’s 1985 film Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters. Dramatising the life and death of Yukio Mishima, considered one of Japan’s most important and influential writers of the 20th Century, the quartet were drawn to how Glass created musical movements that resonated within the thematic structure of the film, yet that also reached outside and into the kind of deep soul-searching that “Of All Joys” asks of its listeners.
For the ensemble’s cellist Andrew Yee, the power of Glass’ string quartet derives from “the strange way it interacts with the subjects in the film itself ” and how “the dark nature of Mishima’s being is highlighted by the very specific way that Glass’ music washes over you.” Besides, adds violinist Domenic Salerni, Glass’ ability to conjure a myriad of emotions and responses from the simplest of elements remains inspirational. “Using an extreme economy of means, he creates moments and momentums out of simple whole-number harmonic and rhythmic ratios that can leave one feeling resigned and despairing, uplifted and filled with joy, or simply at peace and transported to a place of beauty.”
“Of All Joys” is a project that began with the group – Amy Schroeder [violinist], Domenic Salerni [violinist], Nathan Schram [violist], and Andrew Yee [cellist] – nominating their favorite pieces from both the Minimalist movement and Renaissance era, and considering how modern works resonate with what came before. The works chosen are unique in their harmonic structures as well as their instrumentation, and while some are vocal works and some are for strings, none were actually originally written specifically for string quartet. “We just want to play music we love, whether it’s originally written for our medium or not,” says violinist Amy Schroeder.
Such juxtapositions aid one of the quartet’s key beliefs – that music is music. “We truly believe in the beauty and importance of music from all eras,” says Schroeder. “Lineage is a beautiful thing in and of itself, and being able to get a glimpse into life and art of the past is a unique privilege.”
This translates to a rich sense of reverence for each of the works featured, but a freshness too. And, above all, respect and admiration, and love for the art. “In many ways this album expresses one of the biggest reasons one would choose to play in a string quartet,” says Schroeder. “The beautiful organ-like chords and the purity of the harmony in these pieces is extremely satisfying and even when ‘sad’ in nature, they are a true joy to play.”
“There was a feeling that we were recording music we had been deprived of – and we hadn’t been so moved by music we had to stop and weep between takes. Hopefully we captured the joy of being able to soak all that in,” sayscellist Andrew Yee of “Of All Joys”, and how isolation affected the quartet.
“It is about the joy of being together and making something that is more beautiful that you can make yourself,” says violinist Domenic Salerni.
Transmitting all of this through music is not easy, yet “Of All Joys” is possessed of a rare depth and solemnity. Vitality too. For the joy to be found in communion can be fleeting; “Of All Joys” suggests we cherish it when we can.
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ABOUT ATTACCA QUARTET
Formed in 2003, Attacca Quartet present a new paradigm for string quartets in the 21st Century. The New York string collective— Amy Schroeder [violinist], Domenic Salerni [violinist], Nathan Schram [violist], and Andrew Yee [cellist]—have performed on six acclaimed albums, including Caroline Shaw: Orange. For the latter, they garnered the 2020 GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance.” Receiving widespread critical acclaim from New York Times, Noisey,and more, The Nation notably praised how the Attacca Quartet“lives in the present aesthetically, without rejecting the virtues of the musical past.” Not to mention, they’ve performed at Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts, New York Philharmonic’s Nightcap Series, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and at Lincoln Center White Lights Festival and Miller Theatre with Caroline Shaw. Residencies include stints as Julliard’s Graduate Resident String Quartet and Quartet in Residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Plus, they’ve touched down for performances on four continents. In addition, the musicians of the quartet have collaborated with acclaimed artists such as Björk and James Blake and the quartet even appears in the popular video game Red Dead Redemption 2. They were also featured on the soundtrack for Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle (2016). With 2021’s REAL LIFE, they add a classic twist to a modern sound, defying genres and eras all at once.
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