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Video from Noontime Concerts

Shostakovich: String Quartet No. 7 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 108

Beethoven: Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 No. 3, “Rasumovsky”

More Praise for Patagón

Cindy Cox: PatagónMusicWeb International‘s Paul Corfield Godfrey adds to the growing praise for the Alexander String Quartet’s Cindy Cox: Patagón recording:

“The opening Elegy for the difficult and sometimes intractable medium of solo violin does no violence to the nature of the instrument, and indeed begins with a sense of rapture which charms the ear before leading on to a more emotional climax… Columba aspexit is likewise an elegy…It takes as its foundation a chant by Hildegard of Bingen, developing it initially in a densely argued polyphonic style and featuring a series of canonic elaborations of the material. Around two-thirds of the way through the four linked movements the music becomes more explicitly attuned to the medium of the string quartet, with pizzicato passages even leading to Bartókian ‘snap’ plucking of the strings, but again the idiom is ideally suited to the instruments and is handled gratefully and gracefully by the Alexander players. … Patagón is described by the composer as a series of portraits of aspects of the Patagonian landscape, and the movements bear descriptive titles such as Southern right whales and Magellanic penguins. The composer in her note draws attention to her use of various ‘avant garde’ string techniques, but these do not force themselves upon the listener as elements in their own right, seeming instead to be purely illustrative. … the very closeness of the recording enables one to appreciate the precise and well-tuned playing of the Alexander Quartet even during the deliberately scratchy opening to the fourth movement The sleeping cold earth (track 9). There is quite a sense of fun, even, in the final The southern cross and the revolving sky (track 10), with ‘avant garde’ techniques employed to picaresque effect. …” —Paul Corfield Godfrey, MusicWeb International

Full review on www.musicweb-international.com

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The Whole Note Reviews Patagón

Cindy Cox: Patagón

“Cox’s music here is quite fascinating, quite varied and not easy to describe. The composer Robert Carl, writing in Fanfare Magazine, said that “Cox writes music that demonstrates an extremely refined and imaginative sense of instrumental colour and texture … this is well wrought, imaginative, and not easily classifiable music.” It’s exactly that. … Inspired by a trip to the Valdes peninsula nature preserve in southern Argentina, [Patagón] employs some quite remarkable effects, including sliding harmonics, col legno (playing with the wood of the bow), sul ponticello (playing near the bridge), sul tasto (playing above the fingerboard) and overbowing, where the bow is pressed hard but slowly against the strings. Imagine these sounds and then look at the title of the third movement – Southern right whales and Magellanic penguins – and you will have some idea why these effects seem so perfectly suited to the music. … The ASQ and Cox have been collaborating ever since that early recording of the Columba quartet, and it’s hard to imagine more satisfying or better-informed performances of these lovely works.” —Terry Robbins, The Whole Note

Read the full review on TheWholeNote.com

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Fanfare Magazine Reviews Patagón

Cindy Cox: PatagónFanfare Magazine’s Colin Clarke has a new review for our latest recording Patagón featuring the music of Cindy Cox:

Elegy for solo violin is a five-minute, slowly-unfolding, eloquent tribute. Zakarias Grafilo plays it beautifully, particularly the stratospherically-high final section: the music seems to ascend into silence like a spirit finding the higher realms. … Out of that silence, the quiet opening of Columba aspexit emerges. … Counterpoint is a vital part of the expressive world of this piece, particularly canon. The second movement is rather restless; Cox’s use of pizzicato is most effective. There is also a sense of mourning here (the piece is dedicated to the memory of composer’s daughter, Elisabeth Terrell Cox-Hurst, who sadly died at birth). In the final part, Cox adds minimalist phasing to the mix. The sense of rising frenzy, almost impending panic, towards the end is perfectly projected here by the Alexander Quartet. … The title of Patagón itself refers to Patagonia and reflects the composer’s recent linkage of music to nature (the piece was written in 2011, while on sabbatical in South America). Deliberately utilizing a wide variety of instrumental techniques (glissando harmonics to invoke a seagull, for example, and col legno to represent the heartbeat of the piece), this is a stunning demonstration of how expert scoring married to a wide-ranging imagination can bear infinitely satisfying fruit. … The Alexander Quartet commissioned Patagón on the occasion of their thirtieth anniversary season. It is dedicated to them. In this, as in all three pieces, the conviction of the performances is never in doubt. The recording standard for the entire disc is of the highest.” —Colin Clarke, Fanfare Magazine

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2016 Starts Beethoven: Before, During and After

Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets2016 Gets Rolling With a New ASQ and Robert Greenberg Series — Beethoven: Before, During and After

Bad hair, bad temper, and bad attitude: Beethoven, the bad boy from Bonn changed the very way we listen to, think and talk about music. Like him or not, every composer since Beethoven has had to deal, somehow, with his compositional and expressive innovations. This series features four works by Beethoven (“during”); a string quartet that profoundly influenced Beethoven (Mozart’s A Major, K. 464, “before”); and three works powerfully influenced by Beethoven (“after”). Along the way the Alexander String Quartet will be joined by the legendary pianist Roger Woodward in a rare performance of Beethoven’s Piano Quartet No. 3 in C Major and Robert Greenberg’s quintet for piano and strings, Invasive Species.

Sunday
January 10, 2016
2:00 pm
Beethoven: Before, During and After
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Davis, CaliforniaTel: (530) 754-2787
Web: mondaviarts.org/events
Program:
Beethoven Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, “Serioso”
Mendelssohn Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80

Sunday
January 10, 2016
7:00 pm
Beethoven: Before, During and After
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Davis, CaliforniaTel: (530) 754-2787
Web: mondaviarts.org/events
Program:
Beethoven Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, “Serioso”
Mendelssohn Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80

Saturday
January 23, 2016
10:00 am
Beethoven: Before, During and After
San Francisco Performances Inc.
Herbst Theatre
San Francisco, CaliforniaTel: (415) 398-6449
Web: performances.org
Program:
ASQ with lecturer, Robert Greenberg
Mozart Quartet in A Major, KV 464
Beethoven Quartet in A Major, Op. 18 No. 5top of page

Saturday
February 20, 2016
10:00 am
Beethoven: Before, During and After
San Francisco Performances Inc.
Herbst Theatre
San Francisco, CaliforniaTel: (415) 398-6449
Web: performances.org
Program:
ASQ with lecturer, Robert Greenberg
Beethoven Quartet in F Minor, Op. 95, “Serioso”
Mendelssohn Quartet in F Minor, Op. 80
Saturday
March 5, 2016
10:00 am
Beethoven: Before, During and After
San Francisco Performances Inc.
Herbst Theatre
San Francisco, CaliforniaTel: (415) 398-6449
Web: performances.org
Program:
ASQ with lecturer, Robert Greenberg
Beethoven Piano Quartet in C Major, WoO 36 with pianist, Roger Woodward
Greenberg Invasive Species with pianist, Roger Woodward

Sunday
March 6, 2016
2:00 pm
Beethoven: Before, During and After
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Davis, CaliforniaTel: (530) 754-2787
Web: mondaviarts.org/events
Program:
ASQ with lecturer, Robert Greenberg
Beethoven Piano Quartet in C Major, WoO 36 with pianist, Roger Woodward
Greenberg Invasive Species with pianist, Roger Woodward

Sunday
March
6, 2016
7:00 pm
Beethoven: Before, During and After
Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts
Vanderhoef Studio Theatre
Davis, CaliforniaTel: (530) 754-2787
Web: mondaviarts.org/events
Program:
Beethoven Piano Quartet in C Major, WoO 36 with pianist, Roger Woodward
Greenberg Invasive Species with pianist, Roger Woodward
Beethoven Quartet in C Major, Op. 59 No. 3, “Rasumovsky”

Patagón Receives 5 Stars from Audiophile Audition!

Cindy Cox: PatagónNew ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review from Steven Ritter of Audiophile Audition for Cindy Cox: Patagón:

“You want the short review? This is the best new music disc I have heard this year, and you should buy it. That was for those of you shopping and caught up in the Christmas season. … Cox seems to have a thing for quartet writing, and if she stops at two it will be a tragedy. Color, exquisite rhythmic turns, evocative harmonies, and coalescence of melodic invention all conspire to make her music richly rewarding and horizon-expanding. The Alexander plays perfectly, and the Foghorn sound is great. An enthusiastic recommendation!” —Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition

Read the full rave review on www.audaud.com

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San Francisco Classical Voice Reviews SF Performances Concert With Joyce Yang

The ASQ and Joyce YangSan Francisco Classical Voice critic Steven Winn says our Schnittke Piano Quintet performance with Joyce Yang stole the show on Tuesday:

“Never mind the 19th-century pyrotechnics. It was the lesser-known, five-movement Piano Quintet by the Russian composer Alfred Schnittke (1934-1998) that stole the show. … Yang and the Alexander were ideally attuned to the cause. Her flair for blending decisiveness and delicacy at the keyboard, in evidence throughout the program, formed the tent pole of the Schnittke. The quartet suspended skein after skein of diaphanous harmonies and searing bursts of color from it. The result was a fully integrated marriage of darkness and light, tension, and calm, despair and consolation. … The sustained emotional excursions and tiny details had an organic sense of inevitability. The first movement opened with sober, detached phrases that grew more brooding as the music moved toward a near-clinical examination of loss. An introverted theme, first announced by the piano, was echoed in pained, almost strangled whispers by the strings. A single, brittle high note, sounded by Yang in a long, haunting fadeaway, brought this harrowing movement to a close. Violinists Zakarias Grafilo and Frederick Lifsitz, violist Paul Yarbrough, and cellist Sandy Wilson gave the waltz the blurry tint of a ballroom shrouded in shadow. The following Andante was full of whirring trills and string chords melting and collapsing over the piano’s meanderings. Yang’s foot on the piano pedal delivered the movement’s closing, unaccompanied thumps of mortality. The Lento was a slow, anguished implosion. And then, like some unforeseen deliverance, came the untroubled, open intervals of the passacaglia’s theme. Repeated over and over by the piano, in Yang’s wondrous expression, it seemed at once new and deeply familiar. Snatches and scraps of the prior movements floated by in the strings and vaporized. Consonance prevailed over dissonance in the end. It was both a moving and fragile bargain made with grief. All had been lost and yet somehow redeemed.” —Steven Winn, San Francisco Classical Voice

Full review on sfcv.org!

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