Chicago Classical Review: Trapani’s musical islands are joined in Spektral Quartet program

“The audience went island-hopping around the world with the Spektral Quartet Saturday night, at the University of Chicago’s International House.

The event was a concert titled “Enchanted Islands: A Travelogue.” The chamber group performed Books I and II of Isolario: Book of Known Islands—a musical atlas of sorts composed by Christopher Trapani—with Book II receiving its world premiere. 

This was preceded by Schubert’s “Rosamunde” quartet. (Rosamunde is set on Cyprus, you see.) 

The Schubert performance was surprisingly light-footed even in the darkest passages. In the opening bars Clara Lyon (playing first violin) clipped the little phrases of the main theme short, exaggerating the rests between them. Then, when the theme returned in the major, Lyon lengthened the final notes, as if the melody had relaxed a bit—a quirky yet effective interpretive touch…”

“But Trapani is a superb craftsman. He wove together the analog and the electronic so seamlessly that it was hard to tell which sounds were coming from the quartet on stage, and which from the speakers.

This integration is a testament not only to Trapani’s skill in melding the two media, but also to Spektral’s precision of playing. “Kalymnos” from Book I included the din of dynamite blasts from an Easter celebration, with Spektral having to land their notes together with the explosions. “Baracoa” from Book II featured a recording of a mechanical organ, with which the quartet had to remain in tightly coordinated dialogue…”

Read the entire review here