Bonus Track: 'Stringsongs' by Meredith Monk

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ben Russell and Clarice Jensen of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble Ben Russell and Clarice Jensen of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (Mark Shelby Perry)

I am absolutely THRILLED to present this week’s bonus track, an exclusive in-studio performance of Meredith Monk’s transcendent string quartet Stringsongs.

Stringsongs is Meredith’s first string quartet. Written in 2005, the piece was premiered by the Kronos Quartet. I am extremely proud to share this piece now, in a performance by the inimitable ACME (American Contemporary Music Ensemble) in the Q2 Music studios.

In the Meet The Composer: Meredith Monk episode, we spent a considerable amount of time focusing on the fascinating processes Meredith has employed constructing some of her vocal music — namely, her using her vocal ensemble to workshop ideas in the air. Stringsongs is an example of a completely different working style; these days, Meredith has been writing more and more scored, instrumental music, and Stringsongs was developed very much that way. The piece is in four movements: "Cliff Light," "Tendrils," "Obsidian Chorale," and "Phantom Strings." This work is a gorgeous example of Meredith lending her gilded aesthetic to a very Classical format.

The composer’s program note is below:

In Stringsongs, my first piece for string quartet, I explored using instruments to create unexpected textures and sounds in much the same way that I have worked with the voice over many years.  I was inspired by the profound musicianship and passionate commitment of the Kronos Quartet. During the rehearsal period, as I got to know the players, the music came to life in surprising ways, colored by the distinctive "voice" of each musician.  

Stringsongs is published by Boosey & Hawkes.

This recording session was engineered by Irene Trudel.

Hosted by:

Nadia Sirota

Produced by:

Curtis Macdonald and Alexander Overington

Comments [3]

Tzadik from NY/CT

This is delightful in every way. I have been a huge fan of Meredith Monk for over 20 years, and I
was beyond excited to find this MTC episode offering her first go at a string quartet. And it's quite
the impressive first outing to my ears! THANK YOU to everyone involved for making this available,
I shall return to this recording with frequency, finding w each listen new gemstones embedded within Monk's
sonic architecture-that is something that I experience with all of her music-it's not unlike archaeology for the ears
and mind, timeless art composed in the present yet of the past and future-I'm still convinced that
Dolmen Music was composed 1,000 years from now ;-)

Jul. 24 2015 12:31 PM
Drew P. from NJ

Roughly, what I'm assuming to be, the first three minutes of this piece (from 4:49 to 8:10) are horrifically painful to listen to; painful enough to make me seriously call into question the direction of contemporary / modern day classical music if that... noise, somehow passes for it. (PLEASE tell me that was just a warm-up; and that the actual piece begins after the 8:10 mark)

Still, I had to be fair to the piece, so I grinned and bared it, which allowed me to thankfully discover that it improves exponentially, and continues to keep doing so, beyond that disorientating and nerve-wracking beginning.

Jul. 16 2015 10:35 AM
ken nielsen from Sydney Australia

Wonderful! I shall listen over and over. The MM podcast sent me to discover more of her work.
Discovering a composer who I knew nothing or little about and the being able to investigate more is one of the great joys of being a music lover.
Thank you Nadia and all who contributed.

Jul. 14 2015 10:28 PM

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